(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Debit and credit /"

To 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/debitcredit11frey 



DEBIT AND CREDIT 



S'mtslutcb from tht (Scrmatt of (Sustub ^r£Btag 



BY L.C.C. 



WITH A PREFACE 

BY CIIPJSTIAN CHARLES JOSIAS BUNSEN 

D.D., D C.h., D.PH. 



VOL. I. 



EDINBUKGH: THOMAS CONSTABLE AND CO. 
HAMILTON, ADAMS, AND CO , LONDON. 

MDCCCLVII. 



BDMSrRf H: T. COri^TAKLK PUISTER TO HER UAJESTT. 



V./ 



LETTEE FROM CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



Charlottenberg, near Heidelberg, 
10th October 1857. 

Dear SiRj — It is now about five months since you 
expressed to me a wish that I might be induced to 
embody, in a few pages, my views on the peculiar in- 
terest I attached — as you had been informed by a 
common friend — to the most popular German Novel 
of the age, Gustav Freytag s Soil und Haben. I 
confess I was at first startled by your proposal. It 
is true, that although I have not the honour of 
knowing the Author personally, his book inspired me 
with uncommon interest, when I read it soon after 
its appearance in 1855, and I did not hesitate 
to recommend its translation into English, as I 
had, in London, recommended that of the Life of 
Perthes, since so successfully translated and edited 



vi 



LETTER FROM 



under your auspices. I also admit, that I thought, 
and continue to think, the English public at large 
would the better appreciate, not only the merits, but 
also the importance of the work, if they were in- 
formed of the bearing tliat it has upon the reality of 
things on the Continent. For although Soil und 
Hahen is a work altogether of fiction, and not what 
is called a book of tendency^ political or social, it 
exhibits, nevertheless, more strikingly than any other 
I know, some highly important social facts, which 
are more generally felt than understood. It reveals 
a state of the relations of the higher and of the 
middle classes of society, in the eastern provinces of 
Prussia and the adjacent German and Slavonic 
countries, which are evidently connected with a 
general social movement proceeding from irresistible 
realities, and, in the main, independent of local cir- 
cumstances, and of political events. A few explana- 
tory words might certainly assist the English reader 
in appreciating the truth and impartiality of the 
picture of reality exhibited in this novel, and thus 
considerably enhance the enjoyment of its poetical 
beauties, which speak for themselves. 

At the same time, I thought that many other 
persons might explain this much better than I, who 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



vii 



am besides, and have been ever since I left England, 
exclusively engaged in studies and compositions of a 
different character. As, however, you thought the 
English public would like to read what I might have 
to say on the subject, and that some observations on 
the book in general, and on the circumstances alluded 
to in particular, would prove a good means of intro- 
ducing the Author and his work to your countrymen, 
I gladly engaged to employ a time of recreation in 
one of our German baths, in writing a few pages on 
the subject, to be ready by the 1st of August. I was 
the more encouraged to do so, when early in July 
you communicated to me the proof-sheets of the 
first volume of a translation, which I found not 
only to be faithful in an eminent degree, but also to 
rival successfully the spirited tone and classical style 
for which the German original is justly and univer- 
sally admired. 

I began accordingly on the 15th July to write the 
Introductory Eemarks desired by you, when circum- 
stances occurred over which I had no control, and 
neither leisure nor strength could be found for a 
literary composition. 

Now that I have regained both, I have thought 
it advisable to let you have the best I can offer you 



viii 



LETTER FROM CHEVALIER BUN SEN. 



in the shortest time possible, and therefore send you 
a short Memoir on the subject, written in German 
— placing it wholly at your disposal, and leaving it 
entirely to you to give it either in part or in its 
totality to the English public, as may seem best 
adapted to the occasion. 

I shall be glad to hear of the success of your 
Translation, and remain, with sincere consideration, 

Dear Sir, 

Yours truly, 

BUNSEN. 

To Thomas Constable, Esq. 



PREFACE BY CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



THE HISTORY AND SPIRIT OF THE BOOK. 

Since our German literature attained maturity, no novel 
has achieved a reputation so immediate, or one so likely to 
increase and to endure, as Soil und Haben, by Gustav 
Freytag. In the present apparently apathetic tone and 
temper of our nation, a book must be of rare excellence, 
which, in spite of its relatively high price (15s.), has passed 
through six editions within two years ; and which, notwith- 
standing the carping criticism of a certain party in Church 
and State, has won most honourable recognition on every 
hand. To form a just conception of the hold the work has 
taken of the hearts of men in the educated middle rank, it 
needs but to be told that hundreds of fathers belonging to 
the higher industrious classes, have presented this novel to 
their sons at the outset of their career, not less as a work 
of national interest, than as a testimony to the dignity and 
high importance they attribute to the social position they 
are called to occupy, and to their faith in the future that 
iiwaits it. 

The author, a man about fifty years of age, and by birth 
a Silesian, is editor of the Grenz-hote (Border Messenger), 



z 



PREFACE BY 



a highly-esteemed political and literary journal, published 
in Leipsic. His residence alternates between that city and 
a small estate near Gotha. Growing up amid the influences 
of a highly cultivated family circle, and having become an 
accomplished philologist under Lachmann of Berlin, he 
early acquired valuable life- experience, and formed distin- 
guished social connexions. He also gained reputation 
as an author, by skilfully arranged and carefully elaborated 
dramatic compositions, — the weak point in the modern 
German school. 

The enthusiastic reception of his novel cannot, however, 
be attributed to these earlier labours, nor to the personal 
influence of its author. The favour of the public has cer- 
tainly been obtained in great measure by the rare intrinsic 
merit of the composition, in which we find aptly chosen 
and melodious language, thoroughly artistic conception, 
life-like portraiture, and highly cultivated literaiy taste. 
We see before us a national and classic writer, not one of 
those mere journalists who count now-a-days in Germany 
for men of letters. 

The story, very unpretending in its opening, soon ex- 
pands and becomes more exciting, always increasing in 
significance as it proceeds. The pattern of the web is 
soon disclosed after the various threads have been arranged 
upon the loom ; and yet the reader is occasionally sur- 
prised, now by the appearance on the stage of a clever 
americanized German, now by the unexpected introduction 
of threatening complications, and even of important poli- 
tical events. Though confined within a seemingly narrow 
circle, every incident, and especially the Polish struggle, 
is depicted grandly and to the life. In all this the author 



CHEA^ALIER BUNSEN. 



xi 



proves himself to be a perfect artist and a true poet ; not 
only in the treatment of separate events, but in the far 
more rare and higher art of leading his conception to a 
satisfactory development and denouement. As this require- 
ment does not seem to be generally apprehended either by 
the writers or the critics of our modern novels, I shall take 
the liberty of somewhat more earnestly attempting its vin- 
dication. 

The romance of modem times, if at all desemng of the 
name it inherits from its predecessors in the romantic 
Middle Ages, represents the latest stadium of the epic. 

Every romance is intended or ought to be a new Iliad or 
Odyssey ; in other words, a poetic representation of a course 
of events consistent with the highest laws of moral govern- 
ment ; whether it delineate the general history of a people, 
or narrate the fortunes of a chosen hero. If we pass in review 
the romances of the last three centuries, we shall find, 
that those only have arrested the attention of more than 
one or two generations, which have satisfied this require- 
ment. Every other romance, let it moralize ever so loudly, 
is still immoral ; let it ofi'er ever so much of so-called wis- 
dom, is still irrational. The excellence of a romance, like 
that of an epic or a drama, lies in the apprehension and 
truthful exhibition of the course of human things. 

Candide, which may appear to be an exception, owes its 
prolonged existence to the charm of style and language ; 
and after all, how much less it is now read than Rohinson 
Crusoe, the work of the talented Defoe ; or than the Vicar 
of Wakefield, that simple narrative by Voltaire's English 
contemporary. Whether or not the cause can be clearly 
defined, is here of little consequence ; but an unskilfully 



xii 



PREFACE BY 



developed romance is like a musical composition tliat con- 
cludes with discord unresolved, — vritliout perhaps inquir- 
ing wherefore, it leaves an unpleasant impression on the 
mind. 

If we carry our investigation deeper, we shall find that 
any such defect violates our sense of artistic propriety, be- 
cause it offends against our healthy human instinct of the 
fundamental natural laAvs ; and the artistic merit, as well 
of a romance as of an epic, rises in proportion as the plot 
is naturally developed, instead of being conducted to its 
solution by a series of violent leaps, and makeshifts, or 
even by a pretentious sham. We shall take occasion here- 
after to illustrate these views by suitable examples. 

That the work we are now considering fulfils, in a high 
degree, this requirement of refined artistic feeling and 
artistic treatment, will be at once apparent to all discrimi- 
nating readers ; though it cannot be denied, that there are 
many of the higher and more delicate chords which Soli und 
Hahen never strikes. The characters to whom we are in- 
troduced, appear to breathe a certain prosaic atmosphere ; 
and the humorous and comic scenes occasionally interwoven 
with the narrative, bear no comparison, in poetic delicacy 
of touch, with the creations of Cervantes, nor yet with the 
plastic power of those of Fielding. 

The author has given most evidence of poetic power in 
the delineation of those dark characters, who intrude like 
ghosts and demons upon the fair and healthy current of 
the book, and vanish anon into the caverns and cellars 
whence they came. 

The great importance of the work, and the key to the 
almost unexampled favour it has won, must be sought in a 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



xiii 



quite different direction — in the close relation to the real and 
actual in our present social condition, maintained throughout 
its pages. Such a relation is manifested, in very various 
ways, in every novel of distinguished excellence. The 
object of all alike is the same — to exhibit and establish, by 
means of a narrative more or less fictitious, the really true 
and endming elements in the complicated or contradictory 
phenomena of a period or a character. The poetic truth- 
fulness of the immortal Don Quixote, lies not so much in 
the absurdities of an effete Spanish chivalry, as in the por- 
traiture that lies beneath, of the insignificance and profligacy 
of the life of the higher ranks, which had succeeded the 
more decorous manners of the Middle Ages. Don Quixote 
is not the only hero of the book, but also the shattered 
Spanish people, among whom he moves with gipsies and 
smugglers for companions, treading with all the freshness of 
imperishable youth upon the buried ruins of political and 
spiritual life, rejoicing in the geniality of the climate, and 
the tranquillity of the country, reposing proudly on his 
ancestral dignity. This conception, — and not alone the 
pure and lofty nature of the crazy besieger of windmills, 
who, in spite of all, stands forth as at once the worthiest, 
and fundamentally the wisest character in the book, — con- 
stitutes the poetic background, and the twilight glimmer 
amid the prevailing darkness in the life of the higher 
classes. We feel that there is assuredly something deeply 
human and of living power in these elements, and this 
reality will one day obtain the victory over all opponents. 

By what an entirely different atmosphere do we feel 
ourselves to be surrounded in Gil Bias, where the highest 
poetry, the cunning dexterity of the modern Spanish Figaro, 



xiv 



PREFACE BY 



is manifested in the midst of a depraved nobility, and a 
priesthood aUve only to their own material interests. It 
is only the most perfect art that could have retained for 
this novel readers in every quarter of the world. The 
denouement is as perfect as with such materials it can be ; 
and we feel that, instead of Voltaire's withering and satiric 
contempt of all humanity, an element of unfeigned good 
humour lies in the backgroimd of the picture. How far 
inferior is Swift ! and how utterly horrible is the abandoned 
humour of a despair that leaves all in flames behind it, 
which breathes upon us from the pages of the unhappy 
Rabelais ! 

Fielding's novels, Tom Jones in particular, bear the same 
resemblance to the composition of Cervantes, that the paint- 
ings of Murillo bear to those of Rembrandt. The peculiarity 
of Wilhelm Meister as a novel, is more difficult of appre- 
hension, if one does not seek the novel where in truth it 
lies — in the story of Mignon and the Harper, and only sees 
in the remainder the certainly somewhat diffuse but deeply- 
thought and classically-delineated picture of the earnest 
striving after culture of a German in the end of the 
eighteenth century. It would argue, however, as it appears 
to me, much prejudice, and an utterly unreasonable temper, 
not to recognise a perfect novel in the Wahlvei^and- 
scJiaften^ however absolutely one may deny the propriety 
of thus tampering with and endangering the holiest family 
relationships, or thus making them the subjects of a 
work of fiction. Goethe, however, has here placed be- 
fore us, and that with the most noble seriousness and the 
most artistic skill, a reality which lies deejD in human 
nature and the period he represents. The tragical com- 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



XT 



plications and consequences resulting even from errors which 
never took shape in evil deeds, could not in the highest 
tragedy be represented more purely and strikingly than 
here. The stain of impurity rests upon the soid of him 
who thinks that he detects it, not in the book itself. 
Ottilie is as pure and immortal a creation of genius as 
Mignon. 

As novel-literature has developed itself in Europe, an 
attempt has been made to employ it as a mirror of the 
past, into which mankind shall love to look, and thereby 
ascertain whether civilisation has advanced or retrograded 
with the lapse of time. This is a reaction against the 
eighteenth century, and it appears under two forms, — the 
idealistic-sentimental, and the strongly realistic-social. The 
earliest instance in Germany of the romantic school, Hein- 
rich von Ofterdingen, is the apotheosis of the art and litera- 
ture of the Middle Ages. The writings of Walter Scott put 
an end to this sentimentalism, and this is indeed their 
highest merit. Those of his works will continue to maintain 
the most prominent place, standing forth as true and living 
representations of character, which deal with the events of 
Scottish history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 
Still more the work of genius, however, and of deeper worth, 
Hope's Anastasius must be admitted to be, — that marvellous 
picture of life in the Levant, and in the whole Turkish Empire, 
as far as Arabia, as it was about the end of the last, and the 
beginning of the present century. In this work, tmth and 
fiction are most happily blended ; the episodes, especially 
that of Euphrosyne, may be placed, without disparagement, 
beside the novels of Cervantes, and strike far deeper chords 
in the human heart than the creations of Walter Scott. 



xvi 



PREFACE BY 



Kingsley's Hypatia, alone of modern works, is worthy to 
be named along with it. That, indeed, is a marvellous and 
daring composition, with a still higher aim, and still deeper 
soul-pictures. Both of them will live for ever, as examples of 
union of the idealistic and the realistic schools, poetic evoca- 
tions of a bygone reality, with all the truth and poetry of 
new creations. In reading either of them we forget that 
the work is as instructive as it is imaginative. 

The most vehement longing of our times, however, is 
manifestly after a faithful mirror of the present ; that is 
to say, after a life-picture of the social relations and the 
struggles to which the evils of the present day have given 
rise. We feel that great events are being enacted ; that 
greater still are in preparation ; and we long for an epic, a 
world-moulding epic, to embody and depict them ! The 
undertaking is a dangerous one, — many a lance is shivered 
in the first encounter. A mere tendency-novel is in itself 
a monster. A picture of the age must be, in the highest 
acceptation of the word, a poem. It must not represent 
real persons or places, it must create such. It must not 
engraft itself upon the passing and the accidental, but be 
pervaded by a poetic intuition of the real. He that attempts 
it must look with a poet's eye at the real and enduring 
elements in the confusing contradictions of the time, and 
place the result before us as an actual existence. It has been 
the high privilege of the English realistic school, which we 
may call without hesitation the school of Dickens, that it has 
been the first to strike this key-note with a firm and skilful 
hand. Its excellence would stand out with undimmed 
lustre, had it not, as its gloomy background, the French 
School of Victor Hugo and Balzac, that opposite of " the 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



xvii 



poetry of despair," as Goetlie calls it. Here again, in this 
new English school, has the genius of Kingsley alighted. 
Most of his novels belong to it. And besides himself 
and Dickens, there stand forth as its most brilliant mem- 
bers the distinguished authoress of Mary Barton, and the 
sorely-tried Charlotte Bronte, the gifted writer of Jane 
Eyre, — too soon, alas ! removed from us. This school 
has portrayed, in colours doubtless somewhat strong, the 
sufferings and the virtues, the dangers and the hopes of 
the working-classes, especially in towns and factories. But 
instead of enjoining hatred of the higher classes, and despair 
of all improvement in the future for humanity, a healthy 
tone pervades their writings throughout, and an unwaver- 
ing and cheering hope of better things to come, shines 
through the gloomy clouds that surround the dreary pre- 
sent. There are throes of anguish, — but they tell of com- 
ing deliverance ! there are discords, — but they resolve into 
harmony ! The spirit finds, pervading the entire composi- 
tion, that satisfaction of the desires of our higher nature, 
which constitutes true artistic success. 

Dickens, too, has at length chosen the real life of the 
working-classes in their relations to those above them as 
a subject for his masterly pen. Domhey and Son will not 
readily be forgotten. 

It was necessary to take a comprehensive view of novel 
literature, and — although in the merest outline — still to 
look at it in its historical connexion, in order to find the 
suitable niche for a book which claims an important place 
in its European development. For it is precisely in the 
class last described, — that which undertakes faithfully and 
yet in a poetic spirit to represent the real condition of our 

b 



xviii 



PREFACE BY 



most peculiar and intimate social relations, — that our author 
has chosen to enrol himself. With what a full appreciation 
of this high end, and with what patriotic enthusiasm he has 
entered on his task, the admirable dedication of the work 
at once declares, which is addressed to a talented and 
liberal-minded prince, deservedly beloved and honoured 
througliout Germany. In the w^ork itself, besides, there 
occur repeated pictures of these relations, which display at 
once a clear comprehension of the social problem, and a 
poetic power which keeps pace with the power of life-like 
description. To come more closely to the point, however, 
what is that reality which is exhibited in the story of our 
novel ? We should very inadequately describe it, were we 
to say — the nobility of labour, and the duties of property, 
particularly those of the proprietor of land. This is cer- 
tainly the key-note of the whole conservative-social, or 
Dickens school, to which the novel belongs. It is not, 
however, the conflict between rich and poor, between 
labour imd capital in general, and between manufacturers 
and their people in particular, whose natural course is here 
detailed. And this is a point which an English reader 
must above all keep clearly in view. He wiU otherwise 
altogether fail to understand the author's purpose. For 
it is just here that the entu-ely different blending of the 
social masses in England and in Germany is displayed. 
We have here the conflict between the feudal system and 
that class of industrial and wealthy persons, together with 
the majority of the educated public functionaries, who consti- 
tute in Germany the citizen- class. Before the fall of the 
Prussian monarchy in 1 807, the noble families — for the most 
part hereditary knights (Herrn von) — almost entirely mono- 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



xix 



polized the governmental and higher municipal posts, and a 
considerable portion of the peasantry were under servitude 
to them as feudal superiors. The numbers of the lesser 
nobility — in consequence of the right of every nobleman's 
son, of whatever grade, to bear his father's title, — were so 
great, and since the introduction by the great Elector,-^' and 
his royal successors, of the new system of taxation, their 
revenues had become so small, that they considered them- 
selves entitled to the monopoly of all the higher offices of 
State, and regarded every citizen of culture, fortune, and con- 
sideration, with jealousy, as an upstart. The new monarchic 
constitution, of 1808-12, which has immortalized the names 
of Frederick William iii., and of his ministers. Stein and 
Hardenberg, altered this system, and abolished the vassal- 
age and feudal service of the peasants in those provinces 
that lie to the east of the Elbe. The fruits of this wise 
act of social reform were soon apparent, not only in the 
increase of prosperity, and of the population, but also 
in that steady and progressive elevation of the national 
spirit, which alone made it possible in 1813-14 for the 
House of HohenzoUern to raise the monarchy to the first 
rank among the European powers. 

The farther development in Prussia of political freedom 
unfortunately did not keep pace with these social changes ; 
and so — to say no more — it happened that the conse- 
quences of all half-measiu-es soon resulted. Even before 
the struggles of 1848, down to which period the story of 
our novel reaches, the classes of the more polished nobility 
and citizens, instead of fusing into one band of gentry^ and 
thus forming the basis of a landed aristocracy, had assumed 

* The friend and brother-in-law of William III. 



XX 



PREFACE BY 



an unfriendly attitude, in consequence of a sta^ation in 
the growth of a national lower nobility as the head of the 
wealthy and cultivated bourgeoisie, resulting from an un- 
happy reaction which then took place in Prussia. The 
feudal proprietor was meanwhile becoming continually 
poorer, because he lived beyond his income. — Falling into 
embarrassments of every sort, he has recourse for aid to 
the provincial banks. His habits of life, however, often 
prevent him from employing these loans on the improve- 
ment of his property, and he seldom makes farming the 
steady occupation and business of his life. But he allows 
himself readily to become involved in the establishment of 
factories — whether for the manufacture of brandy or for the 
production of beet-root sugar — which promise a larger and 
speedier return, besides the enhancement of the value of 
the land. But in order to success in such undertakings, he 
wants the requisite capital and experience. He manifests 
even less prudence in the conduct of these speculations 
than in the cultivation of his ancestral acres, and the 
inevitable result ensues, that an ever-increasing debt at 
length necessitates the sale of his estate. Such estates are 
ever more and more frequently becoming the property of 
the merchant or manufacturer from the town, or perhaps 
of the neighbouring proprietor of the same inferior rank, 
who has lately settled in the country, and become entitled 
to the exercise of equal rights with the hereditary owner. 
There is no essential difference in social culture between 
the two classes, but there is a mighty difference between 
the habits of their lives. The mercantile class of citi- 
zens is in Germany more refined than in any other coun- 
try, and has more political ambition than the corre- 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



xxi 



spending class in England has yet exhibited. The fami- 
lies of public functionaries constitute the other half of 
the cultivated citizen class ; and as the former have the 
superiority in point of wealth, so these bear the palm in 
respect of intellectual culture and administrative talent. 
Almost all authors, since the days of Luther, have belonged 
to this class. In school and college learning, in information, 
and in the conduct of public affairs, the citizen is thus, for 
the most part, as far superior to the nobleman, as in fashion- 
able manners the latter is to him. The whole nation, how- 
ever, enjoys alike the advantage of military education, and 
every man may become an officer who passes the necessary 
examination. Thus, in the manufacturing towns the citi- 
zens occupy the highest place ; and the nobility in the 
garrison towns and those of royal residence. This fact, 
however, must not be lost sight of, — that Berlin, the most 
populous city of Germany, has also gradually become the 
chief and the richest commercial one ; while the great 
fortress of Magdeburg has also been becoming the seat of a 
wealthy and cultivated mercantile community. 

Instead of desiring landed property, and perhaps a patent 
of nobility for his children, and an alliance with some noble 
country family, the rich citizen rather sticks to his business, 
and prefers a young man in his own rank, or perhaps a 
clergyman, or professor, or some municipal officer, as a suitor 
to his daughter, to the elegant officer or man of noble 
blood : for the richest and most refined citizen, though 
the wife or daughter of a noble official, is not entitled to 
appear at Court with her husband oy her father. It is not 
therefore, as in England or Scotland, the aim of a man 
who has plied his industrial calling with success, to assume 



xxil 



PKEFACE BY 



the rank and habits of a nobleman or country squire. 
The rich man remains in town among his equals. It is 
only when we understand this difference in the condition of 
the social relations in Germany and in England, that the 
scope and intention of our novel can be apprehended. 

It would be a mistake to suppose that our remarks are 
only applicable to the eastern provinces of Prussia. If, 
perhaps, they are less harshly manifested in the western 
division of our kingdom, and indeed in Western Germany, 
it is in consequence of noble families being fewer in number, 
and the conditions of property being more favourable to the 
citizen class. The defective principle is the same, as also 
the national feeling in regard to it. It is easily understood, 
indeed, how this should have become much stronger since 
1850, seeing that the greater and lesser nobility have 
blindly united in endeavouring to bring about a reaction — 
demanding all possible and impossible privileges and 
exemptions, or compensations, and are separating themselves 
more and more widely from the body of the nation. 

In Silesia and Posen, however, the theatres on which 
our story is enacted, other and peculiar elements, though 
lying, perhaps, beneath the surface, affect the social rela- 
tions of the various classes. In both provinces, but espe- 
cially in Posen, the great majority of noblemen are the 
proprietors of land, and the enactment under Hardenberg 
and Stein in 1808-10, in regard to peasant rights, had 
been very imperfectly carried out in districts where vassal- 
age, as in all countries of Slavonic origin, was nearly imi- 
versal. Many estates are of large extent, and some, indeed, 
are strictly entailed. These circumstances naturally give 
to a country life in Silesia or Posen quite a different char- 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



xxiii 



acter than that in the Rhine provinces. In Posen, besides, 
two foreign elements — found in Silesia also in a far lesser 
degree, exercise a mighty influence on the social relations 
of the people. One is the Jewish, the other the Polish 
element. In Posen, the Jews constitute in the country the 
class of innkeepers and farmers ; of course they carry on 
some trade in addition. The large banking establishments 
are partly, the smaller ones almost exclusively, in their 
hands. They become by these means occasionally the pos- 
sessors of land ; but they regard such property almost 
always as a mere subject for speculation, and it is but 
rarely that the quondam innkeeper or pedlar settles down 
as a tiller of the soil. In Silesia, their chief seat is in 
Breslau, where the general trade of the country, as well 
as the purchase and the sale of land, is for the most part 
transacted. It is a pretty general feeling in Germany, that 
Freytag has not dealt altogether impartially with this class, 
by failing to introduce in contrast to the abandoned men 
whom he selects for exhibition, a single honest, upright 
Jew, a character not wanting among that remarkable people. 
The inextinguishable higher element of our nature, and the 
fruits of German culture, are manifested, it is true, in the 
Jewish hero of the tale, ignorant alike of the world and its 
ways, buried among his cherished books, and doomed to 
early death ; but this is done more as a poetic comfort 
to humanity, than in honour of Judaism, from which 
plainly in his inmost soul he had departed, that he might 
turn to the Christianized spirit, and to the poetry of the 
Gentiles. 

The Polish element, however, is of still far greater import- 
ance. Forming, as they once did, with the exception of a 



xxiv 



PEEFACE BY 



few German settlements, the entire population of the pro- 
vince, the Poles have become, in the course of the last 
century, and especially since the removal of restrictions on the 
sale of land, less numerous year by year. In Posen proper 
they Constitute, numerically, perhaps the half of the popu- 
lation ; but in point of prosperity and mental culture their 
influence is scarcely as one-fourth upon the whole. On the 
other hand, in some districts, as, for instance, in Gnesen, 
the Polish influence predominates in the towns, and reigns 
undisputed in the country. The jniddle class is exclu- 
sively German or Jewish ; where these elements are lacking, 
there is none. The Polish vassal, emancipated by the enact- 
ment of 1810, is gradually ripening into an independent 
yeoman, and knows full well that he owes his freedom, 
not to his former Polish masters, but to Prussian legislation 
and administration. The exhibition of these social rela- 
tions, as they were manifested by the contending parties in 
1848, is, in all respects, one of the most admirable portions 
of our novel. The events are all vividly depicted, and, in 
all essential points, historically true. One feature here 
appears, little known in foreign lands, but deserving care- 
ful observation, not only on its own account, but as a key 
to the meaning and intention of the attractive narrative 
before us. 

The two national elements may be thus generally char- 
acterized : — The Prussu-German element is Protestant ; the 
Polish element is Catholic. Possessing equal rights, the 
former is continually pressing onward with irresistible force, 
as in Ireland, in virtue of the principles of industry and 
frugality by which it is animated. This is true alike of 
landlord and tenant, of merchant and ofiicial. 



CHEVALIER BIINSE>5. 



XXV 



The passionate and ill-regulated Polish element stands 
forth in opposition — the intellectual and peculiarly cour- 
teous and accomplished nobility, as well as the priesthood — 
but in vain. Seeing that the law secures perfect equality 
of rights, and is impartially administered ; that, besides, 
the conduct of the German settlers is correct and inoffen- 
sive, the Poles can adduce no well-groimded causes of com- 
plaint either against their neighbours or the government. 
It is their innate want of order that throws business, 
money, and at length the land itself, into the hands of 
Jews and Protestants. This fact is also here worthy of 
notice, that the Jewish usurer is disappearing or with- 
drawing, wherever the Protestant element is taking firmer 
ground. The Jew remains in the country, but becomes a 
citizen, and sometimes even a peasant-proprietor. This 
phenomenon is manifesting itself also in other places where 
there is a concurrence of the German and Slavonic elements. 
In Prussia, however, there is this peculiarity in addition, 
of which Freytag has made most effective use, — I mean 
the education of the Prussian people, not alone in the 
national schools, but also in the science of national de- 
fence, which this people of seventeen millions has in com- 
mon with Sparta and with Rome. 

It is well known, that every Prussian not physically dis- 
qualified, of whatever rank he be, must become a soldier. 
The volimteer serves in the line for one year, and without 
pay ; other persons serve for two or three years. There- 
after, all beyond the age of twenty-five are yearly called 
out as militia, and drilled for several weeks after harvest. 
This enactment has been in force since 1813, and it is a 
well-known fact, brought prominently forward in the work 



PREFACE BY 



before us, that notwithstanding the immense sacrifice it 
requires, it is enthusiastically cherished by the nation as a 
school of manly discipline, and as exercising a most bene- 
ficial influence on all classes of society. This institution it 
is, which gives that high standard of order, duty, and mili- 
tary honour, and that mutual confidence between officers 
and men, which at the first glance distinguishes the Prus- 
sian, not only from the Russian, but the Austrian soldier. 
This high feeling of confidence in the national defences, is 
indeed peculiar to Prussia beyond the other German nations, 
and may be at once recognised in the manly and dignified 
bearing, even of the lowest classes, alike in town and 
country. 

This spirit is depicted to the life in the striking episode 
of the troubles in the year 1848. Even in the wildest 
months of that year, when the German minority were left 
entirely to their own resources, this spirit of order and 
mutual confidence continued undisturbed. Our patriotic 
author has never needed to draw upon his imagination for 
facts, though he has depicted with consummate skill the 
actual reality. We feel that it has been to him a labour 
of love, to console himself and his fellow-countrymen under 
so many disappointments and shattered hopes, to cherish 
and to strengthen that sense of independence, without 
which no people can stand erect among the nations. 

The Prusso-German population feel it to be a mission in . 
the cause of civilisation, to press forward in occupation of 
the Sarmatian territory, — a sacred duty which, however, 
can only be fulfilled by honest means, by privations and 
self-sacrificing exertions of every kind. In such a spirit 
must the wo]-k be carried forward ; this is the suggestive 



CHEVALIER BUN SEN. . " XXVii 

thought with which our author's narrative conchides. It is 
not without a meaning, we believe, that the zealous German 
hero of the book is furnished with the money necessary for 
carrying out his schemes by a fellow-countiyman and friend, 
who had returned to his fatherland with a fortune acquired 
beyond the Atlantic. Our talented author has certainly not 
lost sight of the fact, that Germany, as a whole, has as 
little recovered from the devastation of the Thirty Years' war, 
as the eastern districts of Prussia have recovered from the 
effects of the war with France in the present century. Let 
the faults and failings of our national German character be 
what they may (and we should like to know what nation 
has endured and survived similar spoliation and partition), 
the greatest sin of Germany during the last two hundred 
years, especially in the less-favoured north, has always been 
its poverty — the condition of all classes, with few excep- 
tions. National poverty, however, becomes indeed a poli- 
tical sin, when a people by its cultivation has become 
constitutionally fit for freedom. 

In the background of the whole picture of the disordered 
and sickly condition of our social circumstances here so 
vividly presented, the author has plainly discerned Dante's 
noble proverb, — 

" Di liberta indipendenza e primo grado." 

The existence of independent citizen-families qualified 
and ready for every public service, though beyond the need 
of such employment, — this is the fundamental condition of 
a healthy development of political freedom, alike impreg- 
nable by revolution and reaction ; this is the only sure 
ground and basis on which a constitutional form of govern- 



xxviii 



PEEFACE BY 



ment can be reared aud administered with advantage to 
every class, repressing alike successfully absolutism and 
democracy. 

And now we have reached the point where we are 
enabled to gather up, and to express to the reader, without 
desiring to forestall his own judgment, or to load hun with 
axioms and formulas beyond his comprehension, the beauti- 
ful fmidamental idea of the book, clearly and simply. 

We would express it thus : — The future of all European 
states depends mainly on three propositions ; and the poli- 
tics of every statesman of our period are determined by 
the way in which he views them. 

These propositions are, — 

1st, The fusion of the educated classes, and the total 
abolition of bureaucracy, and all social barriers between the 
ancient nobility and the educated classes in the nation, 
especially the industrial and mercantile population. 

2d, The just and Christian bearing of this united body 
towards the working-classes, especially in towns. 

3d, The recognition of the mighty fact, that the educa- 
ted middle classes of all nations, but especially of those of 
Germany, are perfectly aware that even the present, but 
still more the near future, is their own, if they advance 
along the legal path to a perfect constitutional monarchy, 
resisting all temptations to the right hand or to the left, 
not with embittered feelings, but in the cheerful temper of 
a moral self-confidence. 

It is faith in truths such as these, that has inspired our 
author in the composition of the work which is here ofi'ered 
to the EngUsh reading public. It is his highest praise, 



CHEVALIER BUNSEN. 



xxix 



however, that he has embodied this faith in a true work 
of art, which speaks for itself. He has thereby enkindled 
or strengthened a like faith in many thousand hearts, and 
that with a noble and conciliatory intention which the 
dedication well expresses. 

The admirable delineation of character, the richness of 
invention, the artistic arrangement, the lively descriptions 
of nature, will be ever more fully acknowledged by the 
sympathizing reader, as he advances in the perusal of the 
attractive volumes. 



TO HIS HIGHNESS ERNEST II. 

DUKE OF SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA. 



I VISITED Kallenberg one lovely evening in the month of May. The 
high ground near the castle was steeped in perfume from the blossoms 
of the spring, and the leaves of the pink acacia cast their chequered 
shadows on the dewy grass. Beneath me, in the shady valley, deer 
bounded fearless from their covert in the wood, following greedily 
with their eyes the bright figure of that Lady, who greets with kind 
and hospitable welcome all who enter the precincts of the castle 
— men, and all living things. The repose of evening lay on hill and 
dale ; no sound was heard save the occasional roll of thunder from 
afar above the bright and cheerful landscape. On this very evening, 
leaning against the wall of the ancient castle, your Highness gazed 
with troubled aspect into the gloomy distance. What my noble 
Prince then said, about the conflicts of the last few years, the relaxed 
and utterly despondent temper of the nation, and the duty of authors, 
at such a time especially, to show the people, for their encourage- 
ment and elevation, as in a mirror, what they are capable of doing, 
— those were golden words, revealing a great grasp of intellect and a 
warm heart, and their echo will not soon die away in the heart of 
him who heard them. It was on that evening the desire awoke 
within me, to grace with your Highness's name the work whose plan 
had been already in my mind. 

Nearly two years have passed since then. A terrible war is raging, 
and Germans look with gloomy apprehension to the future of their 
fatherland. At such a time, when the strongest political feelings 



xxxii 



DEDICATION. 



agitate the life of every individual, that spirit of cheerful tranquillity, 
so needful to an author for the artistic moulding of his creations, 
readily forsakes his writing-table. It is long, alas ! since the German 
author has enjoyed it ! He has far too little interest in home and 
foreign life ; he wants that composure and proud satisfaction which 
the writers of other countries feel in dwelling on the past and present of 
their nation ; while he has enough and to spare of humiliation on ac- 
count of his country, of wishes unfulfilled and passionate indignation. 
At such a time, in drawing|an imaginative picture, not love alone, but 
hatred too, flows freely and readily from the pen — practical tendencies 
are apt to usurp the place of poetic fancy ; and instead of a genial 
tone and temper, the reader is apt to find an unpleasing mixture of 
blunt reality and artificial sentiment. 

Surrounded by such dangers, it becomes twofold the duty of an 
author, carefully to avoid distortion in the outline of his pictures, 
and to keep his own soul free from unjust prepossession. To give 
the highest expression to the beautiful in its noblest form, is not the 
privilege of every time ; but in all times alike, it is the duty of the 
writer of fiction to be true to his art and to his country. To seek 
for this truth, and where found to exhibit it, I hold to be the duty of 
my own life. 

And now let me dedicate, with deepest reverence, my unimportant 
work to you, my honoured Lord. I shall rejoice if this Novel leaves 
on the mind of your Highness the impression that its conception is 
in faithful keeping with the laws of life and of art, without ever 
being a slavish copy of the accidental occurrences of the day. 

GUSTAV FREYTAG. 

Leipsic, April 1855. 



CHAPTER L 

ASTRAU is a small town near the Oder, celebrated even 
as far as Poland for its gymnasium and its gingerbread. 
In this patriarchal spot had dwelt for many years the 
accountant-royal, Wohlfart, an enthusiastically loyal subject, 
and a hearty lover of his fellow-men — w^ith one or two 
exceptions. He married late in life, and his wife and he 
lived in a small house, the garden of wiiich he himself kept 
in order. For a long time the happy pair were childless ; 
but at length came a day when the good woman, having 
smartened up her white bed-curtains with a broad fringe 
and heavy tassels, disappeared behind them amidst the 
approbation of all her female friends. It was under the 
shade of those white bed-curtains that the hero of our tale 
was born. 

Anton w^as a good child, who, according to his mother, 
displayed remarkable peculiarities from the very day of his 
birth. For instance, he had a great objection to going to 
bed at the proper hour, he would pore time untold over 

A 



2 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



his picture-alphabet, and hold lengthy conversations with 
the red cock depicted upon its last page, imploring him to 
exert himself in the cause of his young fiimily, and not 
allow the maid-servant to carry them off and roast them. 
Lastly, he would often run away from his play-fellows, and 
sit lost in thought in a corner of the room. His greatest 
deUght, however, was to perch himself on a chair opposite 
his father, cross his legs in the same way, and smoke a 
mimic pipe in emulation. Moreover, he was so seldom 
naughty, that all such of the female population of Ostrau, 
as took a gloomy view of things in general, held it doubt- 
ful that he could live to grow up, till one day Anton 
publicly thrashed the Councillor's son, which in some degree 
modified the opinions concerning him. In short, he was 
just the boy that the only child of warm-hearted parents 
might be expected to prove. At school he was an example 
of industry ; and when the drawing-master began to declare 
that he must be a painter, and the classical teacher to 
devote him to Philology, the boy might have been in 
some danger of being diverted from the serious pursuit of 
any one specific calling, but for an accident which deter- 
mined his choice. 

Every Christmas evening the mail brought to tlie house 
of the paternal Wohlfart, a box containing a loaf of the 
finest sugar, and a quantity of the best coff'ee. This sugar 
the good man himself broke into squares : the cofiTee was 
roasted by his wife's own hands ; and the complacency 
with which they sipped their first cup was pleasant to be- 
hold. These were seasons when, to the childish soul of 
Anton, the whole house seemed pervaded with poetry ; and 
his father was never weary of telling him the history of 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



3 



this periodical present. Many years Ago, he had chanced 
to find, in a dusty bundle of law-papers, a document of 
great importance to a well-known mercantile house in 
the capital. This document he had at once forwarded, and, 
in consequence of it, the firm had been enabled to gain a 
long pending law-suit, which had previously threatened to 
go against them. Upon which, the young head of the 
concern had written his acknowledgments, and Wohlfart 
had refused to be thanked, having, he said, only done his 
duty. From that time forth, the box we have described 
made its appearance every Christmas evening, accompanied 
by a few cordial lines, to which Wohlfart responded in a 
masterpiece of caligraphy, expressing his surprise at the un- 
expected arrival, and wishing a happy new year to the firm. 
The old gentleman persisted, even to his wife, in treating this 
Christmas box as a mere accident, a trifle, a whim of some 
clerk in the house of T. 0. Schroter, and yearly protested 
against the expectation of its arrival, by which the good 
woman's household purchases were more or less influenced. 
But its arrival was, in reality, of the utmost importance in 
his eyes ; and that not for the sake of the actual eoff'ee 
and sugar themselves, but of the poetry of this con- 
necting link between him and the life of a perfect stranger. 
He carefully tied up all the letters of the firm, together 
with three love-letters from his wife. He became a con- 
noisseur in colonial produce, an oracle in eoff'ee, whose 
decision was much deferred to by the Ostrau shopkeepers. 
He began to interest himself in the aff'airs of the great firm, 
and never failed to note the ups and downs reported in a 
certain corner of the newspapers, wholly mysterious to the 
uninitiated. Nay, he even indulged in fancy speculations, 



4 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



and an ideal partnership, chafed when sugars fell, and 
chuckled at the rise of coffee. 

A strange, invisible, filmy thread it was, this which 
connected Wohlfart's quiet household with the activity of 
the great mercantile world, and yet it was by this that 
little Anton's whole life was swayed. For when the old 
gentleman sat in his garden of an evening, in his satin cap, 
and pipe in mouth, he would dilate upon the advantages of 
trade, and ask his son whether he should like to be a mer- 
chant : whereupon a kind of kaleidoscope-picture suddenly 
shaped itself in the little fellow's mind, made up of sugar- 
loaves, raisins, and almonds, golden oranges, his father's 
smile, and the mysterious delight which the arrival of the 
box always occasioned him, and he replied at once — " Yes, 
father, that I should !" Let no one say that our life is 
poor in poetical influences ; still does the enchantress sway 
us mortals as of old ! Rather let each take heed what 
dreams he nurses in his heart's innermost fold, for when 
they are full grown they may prove tyrants, ay, and cruel 
ones too. 

In this way the Wohlfart family lived on for many a 
year ; and whenever the good woman privately entreated her 
husband to form some decision as to the boy's way of life, 
he would reply, " It is formed already ; he is to be a mer- 
chant." But in his own heart he was a little doubtful as 
to how this di'eam of his could ever be realized. 

Meanwhile, a dark day drew on, when the shutters of the 
house remained late unclosed, the servant gii'l, with red 
eyes, ran up and down the steps, the doctor came and shook 
his head, the old gentleman stood in prayer near his wife's 
bed, and the boy knelt sobbing by, while his dying mother's 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



5 



hand still tried to stroke his curls. Three days later 
came the funeral, and father and son sat together alone. 
Both wept, but the boy's red cheeks returned, not so the 
old man's health and strength. Not that he complained ; 
he still sat and smoked his pipe as before, and still con- 
cerned himself about the price of sugars, but there was no 
heart in the smoking or the concern ; and he would often 
look anxiously at his young companion, who wondered what 
his father could have on his mind. One evening, when he 
had for the hundredth time asked him whether he really 
liked to be a merchant, and received the unvarying answer, 
he rose from his seat with an air of decision, and told the 
servant girl to order a conveyance to take him the next 
morning to the capital ; but he said nothing about the 
object of his expedition. 

Late on the following day he returned in a very different 
mood — happier, indeed, than he had ever been since his 
wife's death. He enchanted his son by his account of the in- 
credible charms of the extensive business, and the kindness 
of the great merchant towards himself. He had been invited 
to dinner, he had eaten peewits' eggs, and drank Greek wine, 
compared to which the very best wine in Ostrau was mere 
vinegar ; and, above all, he had received the promise of 
having his son taken into their office, and a few hints as to 
the further course of his education. The very next day saw 
Anton seated at a ledger, disposing arbitrarily of hundreds 
of thousands, converting them into every existing currency, 
and putting them out at every possible rate of interest. 

Thus another year passed away. Anton was just eigh- 
teen, when again the windows remained darkened, and the 
red-eyed servant girl ran up and down, and the doctor 



6 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



shook his head. This time it was the old gentleman by 
whose bed Anton sat, holding both his hands. But there 
was no keeping him back ; and after repeatedly blessing his 
son, he died, and Anton was left alone in the silent dwell- 
ing, at the entrance of a new life. 

Old Wohlfart had not been an accountant for nothing ; 
he left his house in the highest order, his affairs were 
balanced to a farthing, and he had written a letter of intro- 
duction to the merchant only a few days before his death. 
A month later, on a fine summer morning, Anton stood upon 
the threshold of his home, placed the key in a friendly hand, 
made over his luggage to the carrier, and with his father's 
letter in his pocket, took his way to the great city. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



7 



CHAPTER 11. 

rPHE new-mown grass was already fading in the sun, 
when Anton shook the hand of the neighbour who had 
accompanied him as far as the nearest station to the capi- 
tal, and then wall^ed off merrily along the high road. The 
day was bright, the mower was heard whetting his scythe 
in the meadows close by, and the indefatigable lark sang 
high over-head. On all sides rose church-towers, central 
points of villages buried in woods, near many of which 
might be seen a stately baronial residence. 

Anton hurried on as if his feet were winged ; the future 
lay before him sunny as the plain, a life of radiant dreams 
and evergreen hopes ; his heart beat high, his eyes beamed, 
he felt intoxicated by the beauty and the fragrance around 
him. Whenever he saw a mower, he called out to him 
that it was a lovely day, and got many a friendly greeting 
in return. The very birds seemed as though they con- 
gratulated him, and cheered him onwards. 

He now took a footpath that led thi-ough a meadow, 
crossed a bridge, and found himself in a plantation with 
neatly gravelled paths. As he went on, it more and more 
assumed the character of a garden; a sudden turn, and he 
stood on a grass plot and saw a gentleman's seat with two 



8 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



side towers and a balcony rise before liim. Vines and 
climbing roses ran up the towers, and beneath the balcony 
was a vestibule well filled with flowers. In short, to our 
Anton, brouglit up as he had been in a small town, it 
all appeared beauteous and stately in the extreme. He sat 
down behind a bushy lilac, and gave himself up to the con- 
templation of the scene. How happy the inhabitants must 
he ; how noble, how refined ! A certain respect for every- 
thing of acknow^ledged distinction and importance w^as 
innate in the son of the accountant; and when, in the 
midst of the beauty around him, his thoughts reverted to 
himself, he felt utterly insignificant, a species of social 
pigmy scarcely visible to the naked eye. 

For some time he sat and looked in perfect stillness ; at 
last the picture shifted. A lovely lady came out on the 
balcony clad in light summer attire, with white lace sleeves, 
and stood the relike a statue. "When a gay paroquet flew 
out of the room and lighted on her hand, Anton's admira- 
tion went on increasing. But when a young girl followed 
the bird, and wound her arms around the lovely lady's 
neck, and the paroquet kept wheeling about them, and 
perching now on the shoulder of one, and then on that of 
the other, his feeling of veneration became such that he 
blushed deeply, and drew back further into the lilac-tree's 
shadow. 

Then, with his imagination filled by what he had seen, 
he went with elastic step along the broad walk, hoping to 
find a way of exit. 

Soon he heard a horse's feet behind him, and saw the 
younger of the two ladies come riding after him, mounted 
upon a black pony, and using her parasol as a wdiip. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



9 



Now the ladies of Ostrau were not in the habit of riding. 
He had indeed once upon a time beheld a professional 
equestrian with very red cheeks and flowing garments, and 
had unspeakably admired her, but now the same feeling 
was far more intense. He stood still and bowed reveren- 
tially. The young girl acknowledged his homage by a 
gracious nod, pulled up her horse, and asked whether he 
wished to speak to her father. 

" I crave your pardon," replied Anton, with the deepest 
respect ; " probably I am in a path not open to strangers. I 
came across the meadow, and saw no gate and no hedge." 

" The gate is on the bridge ; it is open by day," said the 
young lady, with great benignity, for reverence was not the 
sentiment her fourteen years often inspired, and she was 
the more pleased therewith. " But since you are in the 
garden," continued she, " will you not look around 1 We 
shall be very glad if it give you pleasure." 

" I have already taken that liberty," replied Anton, with 
another bow. "I have been on the lawn before the 
castle : it is magnificent." 

" Yes," said the young lady, reining in her pony ; 
" the gardener laid it out under mamma's own direction." 

" Then the lady who stood with you on the balcony was 
your mother ? " timidly inquired Anton. 

" What ! you have been watching us, then 1 Do you 
know that that was wrong ?" 

" Forgive me," was the humble reply ; "I retreated at 
once, but it was such a lovely sight — the two ladies, the 
roses in full blossom, the framework of vine leaves — I 
shall never forget it." 

" He is charming !" thought the young girl. " Since you 



10 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



have already seen the garden," said she condescendingly, 
" you must go to the point from which we have the best 
view. I am on my way thither now, if you like to 
follow." 

Anton followed, lost in delight. The lady bade her horse 
walk slowly, and played the cicerone. At last she dis- 
mounted and led the pony, whereupon Anton ventured to 
stroke his neck — an attention which the little fellow took 
in good part, and returned by sniffing his coat-pockets. 
" He trusts you," said the young lady ; " he is a sagacious 
beast." She then tied the bridle round his neck, told him 
to go home, and turning to Anton, added, " We are going 
into the flower-garden, where he must not come ; and so 
you see he trots back to his stable." 

" This pony is a perfect wonder," cried Anton. 

"He is very fond of me; he does all I tell him," was the 
reply. 

Anton thought that the most natural thing in the world 

" I think you are of a good family," said the little lady 
decidedly, looking at Anton with a discriminating air. 

" No," replied he, sadly. " My father died last month, 
my dear mother a year ago ; I am alone, and on my way to 
the capital." His lips quivered as he spoke. 

The lady looked at him with the utmost sympathy, 
and in some embarrassment. " Oh, poor, poor you !" cried 
she. " But, come quickly, I have something to show you. 
These are the beds of early strawberries; there are still 
a few. Do, pray, take them. No guest must leave my 
father's house without partaking of the best each season 
brings. Pray, pray, eat them." 

Anton looked at her with tearful eyes. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



11 



" I am going to share with you," said she, taking two 
strawberries. Upon that, the youth obediently followed 
her example. 

" And now I will take you across the garden," said she, 
leading him to a little lake where old swans and young 
were swimming about. 

" They are coming hither," cried Anton in delight. 

" They know that I have something for them," said his 
companion, loosening the while the chain of a small boat. 
" Now, sir, jump in, and I will row you across, for yonder 
lies your way." 

" I cannot think of troubling you." 

" No opposition ! " said she imperatively, and they set off. 

Anton was entranced. Behind, the rich green trees; 
beneath, the clear water rippling round the prow ; opposite 
him, the slender figure of his companion, and the swans her 
snowy subjects following in her train ; — it was a dream 
such as is only granted to youth. 

The boat grounded, Anton leaped out, and involuntarily 
offered his hand, which the little lady touched with the tips 
of her fingers, as she wished him good-bye. He sprang up 
the hill and looked down. Through an opening in the 
wood he saw the castle with its flag floating, and its vines 
and roses shining in the sim. 

"How noble ! how magnificent !" said he aloud. 

"If you were to count out to that Baron a hundred 
thousand dollars, he would not sell you the property he in- 
herited from his father," said a sharp voice behind him. He 
angTily turned, the dream was gone ; he stood on the dusty 
highway, and saw a meanly-dressed youth with a great 
bundle under his arm, looking at him with cool familiarity. 



12 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Is it you, Veitel Itzig cried Anton, without showing 
much pleasure at the meeting. Indeed, young Itzig was 
by no means a pleasant apparition ; pale, haggard, red- 
haired, and shabbily clothed as he was. He came from 
Ostrau, and had been a school-fellow of Anton's, who had 
once fought a battle on his behalf, and had stood between 
the young Jew and the general ill-will of the other boys. 
But of late they had seldom met, just often enough to 
give Itzig an opportunity of keeping up in some measure 
their old school- days' familiarity. 

" They say that you are going to the great city to learn 
business," added Veitel ; " to be taught how to twist up 
paper-bags and sell treacle to old women. I am going there 
too, but / mean to make my fortune." 

To this Anton replied, dryly enough, " Go then, and 
make it, and do not let me detain you." 

" There's no need to hurry," said the other carelessly, 
" I will walk on with you, if you are not ashamed of my 
dress," This appeal to our hero's humanity was successful, 
and casting a last look at the castle, he went on his way, 
his unwelcome companion a foot or so behind him. At 
length he turned, and inquired who the proprietor was. 

Itzig displayed wonderful familiarity with the subject. 
The Baron, said he, had only two children, large flocks, and a 
clear estate. His son was at a military school. Finally, 
observing Anton's interest, he remarked, " If you wish for 
his property, I will buy it for you." 

" Thanks," was the cold reply. " You have just told me 
he was not disposed to sell." 

" When a man is not disposed to sell, he must be forced 
to do so." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



13 



" You are the veiy person to force him, I suppose," re- 
plied Anton, thoroughly out of patience. 

" Whether I am or not, does not signify ; there is a 
receipt for making any man sell." 

" What ! can they be bewitched, or given some magic 
potion?" asked Anton contemptuously. 

" A hundred thousand dollars is a potion that can work 
wonders; but a poor man must get hold of a secret to ac- 
complish his ends. Now, I am on my way to town to get 
at the knowledge of this secret. It is all contained in 
certain papers, and I will search for those papers till I find 
them." 

Anton looked askance at his companion as at a lunatic, 
and at length replied, " Poor Veitel, you never will find 
them." 

However, Itzig went on to say confidentially, " Never 
repeat what I tell you. Those papers have been in our 
town, and a certain person who is become a very great man 
now, got them from an old dying beggar-man, who gave 
them to him one night that he watched by his bedside." 

"And do you know this man?" inquired Anton, in a 
tone of curiosity. 

" Never mind whether I know him or not," answered 
the other slyly. " I shall find out the receipt I spoke of 
And if ever you wish to have this Baron's property, horses, 
flocks, and his pretty daughter to boot, I'll buy them for 
you, for the sake of our old friendship, and the thrashing 
you once gave some of our school-fellows on my account." 

" Take care," said Anton, " that you don't turn out a 
thorough rascal ; you seem to me to be in the fair way." 

So saying, he crossed over to the other side of the road 



u 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



in high dudgeon ; but Itzig took his caution with the utmost 
equanimity, and ever and anon as they passed different 
country-seats, gave him an account of the names and rentals 
of their proprietors, so that Anton was perfectly stupified 
with the extent of his statistical information. At length 
both walked on in silence. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



15 



CHAPTER III. 

'JHE Baron of Rothsattel was one of the few men whom not 
only the world pronounced happy, but who believed him- 
self to be so. The descendant of an ancient and honourable 
house, he had mamed, out of sheer love, a beautiful young 
lady, without any fortune. Like a sensible man, he had 
retired with her into the country, hved for his family, and 
within his means. He was a thoroughly noble-hearted 
man, still handsome and dignified in appearance, an 
affectionate husband, a hospitable host ; in short, the very 
model of a landed proprietor. His means were not indeed 
very large, but he might have sold his property over and 
over again for a far higher sum than the sagacious Itzig 
had surmised, had he felt any inclination to do so. Two 
healthy, intelligent children completed his domestic happi- 
ness ; the boy was about to enter the military career, which 
had been that of all his ancestors ; the girl was to remain 
yet awhile under her mother's wing. Like all men of old 
descent, our Baron was a good deal given to speculate upon 
the past and the future of his family. We have said that 
his means were not large, and though he had always in- 
tended to lay by, the time for beginning to do so had never 
yet come. Either some improvement to house or grounds 



16 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



was wanted, or a trip to the Batlis — rendered necessary by 
his wife's delicate health — consumed the overplus income. 
Reflections of this nature were occupying him just now, as 
he came galloping up the great chestnut avenue. The 
cloud on his brow was, however, but a little one, and it soon 
vanished in sunshine when he saw the flutter of feminine 
garments, and found that his wife and daughter were 
coming to meet him. He leaped off" his horse, kissed his 
favourite child on the brow, and cheerfully remarked to his 
wife — " We have capital weather for the harvest ; the bailiff" 
vows we never have had such a crop." 

" You are a fortunate man, Oscar," said the Baroness, 
tenderly. 

" Yes, ever since I brought you here, seventeen years 
ago," replied he, with a politeness that came from the 
heart. 

" There are indeed seventeen years since then," cried his 
wife, " and they have flown by like a summer day. We 
have been very happy, Oscar !" said she, bending over his 
arm, and looking gi'atefully in his face. 

" Been happy ! " cried the Baron ; " why, so we still are, 
and I see not why we should not continue so." 

"Hush!" implored she. "I often feel that so much 
sunshine cannot last for ever. I desire, as it were, to fast 
and do penance, thus to propitiate the envy of fortune ! " 

" Come, come," was the good-humoured repl}'' ; " fortune 
has given us a few rubs already — we have had our clouds, 
only this little hand has always conjured them away. \Vhy, 
have you not had plague enough with the servants, the 
pranks of the children, and sometimes with your tyi'ant 
too, that you should be wishing for more ?" 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



17 



" You dear tyrant ! " cried the wife, " I owe all my 
happiness to you ; and, after seventeen years, I am as 
proud as ever of my husband and my home. When you 
brought me here, a poor maid of honour, with nothing but 
my trinket-box, and that a gift, I first learned the blessed- 
ness of being mistress in my own house, and obeying no 
other will than that of a beloved husband." 

" And yet you gave up much for me," returned the 
Baron ; " I have had many a fear lest our country life 
should seem petty and dull to you, a favourite at court." 

" There I obeyed, here I rule," said the Baroness, 
laughing. " There I had nothing besides my fine dresses 
that I could call my own ; here everything around is mine ! 
You belong to me (she woimd her arms about the Baron,) and 
so do the children, the castle, and our silver candlesticks !" 

" The new ones are only plated ! " suggested the Baron. 

" Never mind ; no one finds it out," cried she, merrily. 
" When I look at our own dinner-service, and see your and 
my arms on the plates, two spoonsful give me ten times 
more satisfaction than all the courses of the court dinner 
ever did." 

" You are a bright example of contentment," said the 
Baron ; " and for your and the children's sakes, I wish this 
property were ten times larger, so that I might keep a page 
and a couple of maids of honour for my lady wife." 

" For heaven's sake, no maids of honour' ; and as for a 
page, I need none with such an attentive knight as your- 
self." 

And so the pair walked on to the house, Lenore having 
taken possession of the horse's bridle, and afi'ectionately 
exhorting him to raise as little dust as possible. 

B 



18 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" I see a carriage," said the Baron, as they drew near 
the door ; " have any visitors come 

" It is only Ehrenthal, who wished to see you," replied 
his wife; " and meanwhile expended all his pretty speeches 
upon us. Lenore was so arrogant, that it was high time 
I shoidd carry her off — the droll man was quite put out of 
coimtenance by the saucy girl." 

The Baron smiled. " I like him the best of his cla^s," 
said he. " His manners are at least not repulsive, and I 
have always found him obliging. How do you do, Mr. 
Ehrenthal ; what brings you here ?" 

Mr. Ehrenthal was a portly man in the prime of life, 
with a face too yellow, fat, and cunning to be considered 
exactly handsome. He wore gaiters, and a large diamond 
breast-pin ; and advanced with a series of low bows towards 
the Baron. 

"Your servant, good sir," said he, with a deferential 
smile ; " although no business matters lead me here, I must 
sometimes crave permission to look round your fann, it is 
such a treat and refreshment to me ; all your live stock is so 
sleek and well-fed, and the barns and stables in such perfect 
order. The very sparrows look better oS here than else- 
where. To a man of business, who is often obliged to see 
things going to wrack and ruin, it is a delight, indeed, to 
contemplate an estate nke yours." 

" You are so complimentary, ]\Ir. Ehrenthal, that I can 
but believe you have some weighty business on hand. Do 
you want to make a bargain wdth me 1 " asked the Baron, 
good-naturedly. 

With a virtuous shake of the head, in refutation of the 
charge, Mr. Ehrenthal went on — " Not a word of business, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



19 



Baron, not a word. Our business, when we have any, 
admits of no compliments — good money and good stock, 
that is om- plan ; and so, please God, it will be. I merely 
came, in passing by " — here he waved his hand — " in pass- 
ing by, to inquire about one of the horses the Baron has to 
sell ; I promised a friend to make inquiries. But I can 
settle the matter with the Bailitf." 

" No, no ; come along with me, Ehrenthal — I am going 
to take my horse to the stable." 

With many bows to the ladies, Ehrenthal followed ; and, 
arrived at the stable-door, respectfully insisted that the 
Baron shoidd enter it first. After the customary questions 
and answers, the Baron took him to the cow-house, and he 
then fervently requested to see the calves, and then the 
sheep. Being an experienced man, his praise, although 
somewhat exaggerated, was in the main judicious, and the 
Baron heard it with pleasure. 

After the inspection of the sheep, there was a pause, 
Ehrenthal being quite overcome with the thickness and 
fineness of their fleece. He nodded and winked in ecstasy. 
" What wool ! " said he ; " what it will be next spring ! 
Do you know. Baron, you are a most fortunate man ? Have 
you good accounts of the young gentleman, your son ?" 

" Tliank you ; he wrote to us yesterday, and sent us his 
testimonials." 

" He will be like his father, a nobleman of the first 
order, and a rich man too ; the Baron knows how to pro- 
\ide for his children." 

" I am not laying by," was the careless reply. 

" Laying by, indeed," said the tradesman, with the 
utmost contempt for anything so plebeian ; " and why 



30 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



should you ? "When old Ehrenthal is dead and gone, you 
will be able to leave the young gentleman this property — 
with — between ourselves — a very large sum indeed, besides 

a dowry to your daughter of of , what shall I 

say 1 of fifty thousand dollars, at least." 

" You are mistaken," said the Baron, gTavely ; " I am 
not so rich." 

Not so rich ! " cried Ehrenthal, ready to resent the 
speech, if it had not been made by the Baron himself — 
" why, you may then be so any moment you like ; any 
one, with a property like yours, can double his capital in 
ten years, without the slightest risk. Why not take joint- 
stock promissory-notes upon your estate ?" 

Ehrenthal alluded to a great joint-stock company of 
landed proprietors, which lent money on a first mortgage 
on estates. This money took the form of promissory 
notes, made payable to the holder. The company itself 
paid interest to those who accepted the mortgages, and ad- 
vanced money on them, raising from its own debtors, in 
addition to the interest, a small sum as commission, for the 
purpose of defraying expenses, and also for the gradual 
extinction of the debt incurred. 

" I will have nothing to do with money transactions," 
said the Baron, proudly ; but the string the tradesman had 
touched went on vibrating notwithstanding. 

"Transactions such as those I speak of are carried on 
by every prince," continued IVIr. Ehrenthal, fervently. " If 
you were to do as I suggested, you might any day obtain 
fifty thousand dollars in good parchment. For it you 
would pay to the company four per cent. ; and if you merely 
let the mortgages lie in your cash-box, they would bring 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



21 



you in three-and-a-lialf. So you would only have a half 
per cent, to pay, and by so doing you would liquidate the 
capital." 

" That iB to say, I am to run into debt in order to get 
rich." said the Baron, shrugging his shoulders. 

" Excuse me. Baron ; if a nobleman like you has fifty 
thousand dollars lying by him, for which he only pays a half 
per cent., he may buy up half the world. There are always 
opportunities of getting estates for a mere nothing, or 
shares in mines, or something or other, if you only have the 
money ready. Or you might establish some kind of works 
on your property ; as, for instance, for making beet-root 
sugar, like Herr von Bergue ; or a brewery, like your 
neighbom-. Count Horn. There is no possible risk to be 
feared. Why, you would receive ten, twenty, ay, fifty per 
cent, for the capital borrowed at four per cent." 

The Baron looked down thoughtfully. Ideas of the sort 
had often flitted across his mind. It was just the time 
when numerous industrial speculations had started up ; and 
landed proprietors looked upon them as the best way to 
increase their means. Mr. Ehrenthal perceived the effect 
his words had taken, and concluded in the obsequious tone 
most natural to him — " But what right have I to give any 
advice to a nobleman like you 1 Only, every capitalist 
will tell you that in our days this is the surest method 
by which a man of rank can provide for his family ; and, 
when the grass is growing over old Ehrenthal' s grave, you 
will think of me, and say, ' Ehrenthal was but a plain man, 
but he gave me advice which has proved advantageous to 
my family.' " 

The Baron still looked thoughtfully down. His mind 



22 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



was made up, but he merely replied, with affected indiffe- 
rence, " I will think the matter over." Ehrenthal asked 
no more. 

It was a pity that the Baron did not see the expression 
of the tradesman's face, as he got into his conveyance and 
drove away. He told the coachman to go slowly through 
the grounds, and looked with delight at the flourishing 
crops on either side. " A fine property," he went on 
muttering to himself ; " truly a fine property." 

Lleanwhile, the Baroness sat in the shrubbery, and turned 
over the leaves of a new magazine, every now and then 
casting a look at her daughter, who was occupied in fram- 
ing, with old newspapers and flowers, a grotesque decora- 
tion for the pony's head and neck, while he kept tearing 
away all of it that he could reach. As soon as she caught 
her mother's glance, she flew to her, and began to talk 
nonsense to the smart ladies and gentlemen who displayed 
the fashions in the pages of the magazine. At first her 
mother laughed, but by and by she said, " Lenore, you are 
now a great girl, and yet a mere child. We have been too 
careless about your education, — it is high time that you 
should begin and learn more systematically, my poor 
darling." 

" I thought I was to have done with learning," said 
Lenore, pouting. 

" Your French is still very imperfect, and your father 
wishes you to practise dramng, for which you have a 
talent." 

" I only care for drawing caricatures," cried Lenore ; 
" they are so easy." 

"You must leave off drawing these, — they spoil your 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



23 



taste, and make you satirical." Lenore hung her head. 
" And, who was the young man with whom I saw you a 
short time ago 1 " continued the Baroness, reprovingly. 

Do not scold me, dear mother!" cried Lenore; " he was 
a stranger, a handsome, modest youth, on his way to the 
capital. He has neither father nor mother, and that made 
me so sorry for him." 

Her mother kissed her, and said, " You are my own 
dear, wild girl; go and call your father, his coffee will 
get cold." 

As soon as the Baron appeared, his head still full of his 
conversation with Ehrenthal, his wife laid her hand in his, 
and said, " Oscar, I am uneasy about Lenore !" 

" Is she ill ]" inquired her father, in alarm. 

" No, she is well and good-hearted ; but she is more free 
and unconventional than she should be at her age." 

" She has been brought up in the coimtry, and a fine 
clever girl she is," replied the Baron, soothingly. 

" Yes, but she is too frank in her manner towards 
strangers," continued his wife ; "I fear that she is in 
danger of becoming an original." 

" Well, and is that a very great misfortune ?" asked the 
Baron, laughing. 

" There can be no greater to a girl in our circle. What- 
ever is unusual in society is ridiculous, and the merest 
shade of eccentricity might ruin her prospects. I am 
afraid she will never improve in the country." 

" What would the child do away from us, and growing 
up with strangers 

" And yet," said the Baroness, earnestly, " it must come 
to this, though I grieve to tell you so. She is rude to girls 



24 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



of her own age, disrespectful to ladies ; and, on the other 
hand, much too forward to gentlemen." 

" She vn[\ change, " suggested the Baron, after a pause. 

"She will not change," returned the Baroness, gently, 
" so long as she leaps over hedge and ditch with her father, 
and even accompanies him out hunting." 

" I cannot make up my mind to part with both children," 
said the kind-hearted father ; " it would be hard upon us, 
indeed, and hardest upon you, you rigid matron !" 

" Perhaps so," said the Baroness, in a low voice, and her 
eyelids moistened ; " but we must not think of ourselves, 
only of their future good." 

The Baron drew her closer to him, and said in a firm 
voice, " Listen, Elizabeth ; when in earlier days we looked 
forward to these, we had other plans for Lenore's education. 
AVe resolved to spend the winters in town, to give the child 
some finishing lessons, and then to introduce her into the 
w^orld. We will go this very winter to the capital." 

The Baroness looked up in amazement. " Dear, kind 
Oscar," cried she, " but — forgive the question — will not 
this be a great sacrifice to you in other respects ?" 

" No," was the cheerful reply ; "I have plans which 
make it desirable for me to spend the winter in town." 

He told them, and the move was decided upon. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



25 



CHAPTER IV. 

T^HE sun was already low, when the travellers reached 
the suburbs of the capital. First came cottages, then 
villas, then the houses crowded closer, and the dust and 
noise made our hero's heart sink within him. He would 
soon have lost his way but for Veitel Itzig, who seemed 
to have a preference for by-streets and narrow flagstones. 
At length they reached one of the main streets, where large 
houses, with pillared porticoes, gay shops, and a well-dressed 
crowd, proclaimed the triumph of wealth over poverty. 
Here they stopped before a lofty house. Itzig pointed out 
the door with a certain degree of deference, and said, " Here 
you are, and here you will soon get as proud as any of 
them ; but, if you ever wish to know where I am to 
be found, you can inquire at Ehrenthal's, in Dyer-street. 
Good-night !" 

Anton entered with a beating heart, and felt for his 
father's letter. He had become so diifident, and his head 
felt so confused, that he would gladly have sat down for a 
moment to rest and compose himself But there was no 
rest here. A great waggon stood at the door, and within, 
colossal bales and barrels; while broad-shouldered giants, 
with leathern aprons and short hooks in their belts, were 



26 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



carrying ladders, rattling chains, rolling casks, and tying 
thick ropes into artistic knots ; while clerks, with pens be- 
hind their ears and papers in their hands, moved to and 
fro, and carriers in blue blouses received the different goods 
committed to their care. Clearly there was no rest to be 
had here. Anton ran up against a bale, nearly fell over a 
ladder, and was with difficulty saved by the loud " Take 
care ! " of two leathern-aproned sons of Anak, from being 
crushed flat under an immense tun of oil. 

In the centre of all this movement — the sun around 
which porters and clerks and waggoners revolved — stood a 
young official, of decided air and few words, holding a large 
black pencil in his hand, with which he made colossal 
hieroglyphics on the bales, before he desired the porters to 
move them. To him Anton addressed himself in a nearly 
inaudible voice, and was directed by a wave of the pencil 
to the counting-house. Slowly he approached the door, 
which it cost him a mighty effort to open, and as it gently 
yielded, and he saw the great room before him, his alarm 
was such that he could scarcely enter. His entrance, how- 
ever, did not make much sensation. Half-a-dozen clerks 
were dashing in haste over the blue folio paper before them, 
to save the post. Only one of them, who sat next the door, 
rose, and asked what Anton was pleased to want. 

Upon his replying that he wished to speak to Mr. 
Schroter, there emerged from an inner room, a tall man, 
with a deeply-marked visage, standing shirt-collar, and 
thoroughly English aspect. Anton took a rapid survey of 
his countenance, and felt his courage return. He at once 
discovered uprightness and kindness of heart, though the 
air and manner were somewhat stern. He rapidly drew 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



27 



out his letter, gave his name, and, in a broken voice, men- 
tioned his father's death. 

At this a friendly light beamed from the merchant's 
eyes ; he opened the letter, read it attentively, and stretched 
out his hand, saying, " You are welcome." Then turning 
to one of the clerks, who wore a green coat and a grey 
over-sleeve on the right arm, he announced, " Mr. Wohlfart 
enters our office from this day." For an instant the six 
pens v/ere silent, and the principal went on to say to Anton, 
" You must be tired ; Mr. Jordan will show you your 
room — the rest to-morrow." So saying, he went back 
to his office, and the six pens began again with fearful 
rapidity. 

The gentleman in the green coat rose, drew off his over- 
sleeve, carefully folded and locked it up, and invited Anton 
to follow him. Anton felt a different man to that he had 
done ten minutes before ; he had now a home, and belonged 
to the business. Accordingly, as he passed, he patted a 
great bale as though it had been the shoulder of a friend, 
at which his conductor turned, and benevolently vouchsafed 
the word "cotton next he rapped a gigantic barrel, and 
received the information " currants." He no longer fell 
over ladders, nay, he boldly pushed one out of his way, be- 
stowed a friendly greeting upon one of the leathern-aproned 
Anakims, and felt pleased to be politely thanked in return, 
especially when informed that this was the head-porter. 

They crossed the court, mounted a well-worn staircase, 
and then Mr. Jordan opened the door of a room which he 
told Anton v/ould most probably be his, and had been 
formerly occupied by a friend of his own. It was a neat 
little room, with a beautiful stucco cat sitting on the 



28 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



writing-table, who had been left by the former tenant for 
the benefit of his successor. 

Mr. Jordan hurried off to the office, where he had to be 
earliest and latest of all ; and Anton, with the help of a 
friendly servant, arranged his room and his dress. 

Soon the green coat reappeared, and said that Mr. 
Schroter was gone out, and not to be seen again that day, 
" Would the new-comer make the acquaintance of his col- 
leagues ? It was not necessary to dress." 

Anton followed him down stairs, and Mr. Jordan was 
just about to knock at the door of a certain room when 
it was opened by a handsome slender young man, whose 
whole appearance made a great impression upon our hero. 

He wore a riding dress, had on a jockey's cap, and a 
whip in his hand. " So you are trotting your colt round 
already ?" said the stranger, laughing. Mr. Jordan looked 
solemn, and went on to introduce Mr. Wohlfart, the new 
apprentice, just arrived ; Herr von Fink, son of the great 
Hamburgh firm. Fink and Becker. 

" Heir of the greatest train-oil business in the world, 
and so forth," broke in Fink, carelessly. " Jordan, give me 
ten dollars, I want to pay the groom ; add them to the 
rest." Then turning to Anton, he said with some degree 
of politeness, " If you were coming to call upon me, as I 
guess from the festive air of your Mercury, I am soriy not 
to be at home, having to buy a new horse. I consider 
your visit paid, return you my most ceremonious thanks, 
and give you my blessing on your entrance." And with a 
careless nod he went rattling down the stairs. 

Anton was a good deal discomposed by this cool be- 
haviour, and Jordan thought it desirable to add a short 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



29 



commentary of his own. " Fink only half belongs to us, 
and has been here but a short time. He was brought up 
in New York, and his father has sent him here to be made 
a rational being." 

"Is he not rational, then?" inquired Anton, with some 
curiosity. 

" Why, he is too wild, too full of mischief! else, a pleasant 
fellow enough. And now come with me ; I have invited all 
our gentlemen to tea, that they may make your acquaintance. 

Mr. Jordan's room was the largest of those appropriated 
to the clerks, and having a pianoforte and a few arm-chairs, 
it was occasionally used as a drawing-room. 

Here, then, the gentlemen were sitting and standing 
awaiting the new-comer. Anton went through the cere- 
mony of introduction with becoming gravity, shaking each 
of them by the hand, and asking for their good-will and 
friendly assistance, as he had been but little in the world, 
and was totally inexperienced as to business. This candour 
produced a favourable impression. The conversation grew 
animated, and was seasoned with many allusions and jests 
wholly unintelligible to the stranger, who held his peace, 
and devoted himself to observation. First, there was the 
book-keeper, Liebold, a little, elderly man, with a gentle 
voice, and a modest smile, that seemed to apologize to the 
world at large for his having taken the liberty of existing 
in it. He said but little, and had a way of always re- 
tracting what he had advanced ; as, for example : "I 
admit this tea is too weak ; though, to be sure, strong tea 
is unwholesome," and so on. Next came Mr. Pix, the 
despotic wielder of the black pencil, a decided kind of man, 
who seemed to look upon all social relations as mere 



30 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



business details, respectable but trivial. As a chair was 
wanting, he sat astride on a small table. Near him 
was Mr. Specht, who spoke much, and dealt in assertions 
that every one else disputed. Then there was a Mr. 
Baumann, with short hair and thoughtful aspect, very 
regular in his attendance at church, a contributor to every 
missionary association, and, as his friends declared, much 
inclined to be a missionary himself, but that the force of 
habit retained him in Germany and the Firm. Anton 
remarked with pleasure the courtesy and good feeling that 
prevailed. Being tired, he soon made his retreat ; and 
having contradicted no one, and been friendly to all, he 
left a favourable impression behind. 

Meanwhile, Veitel Itzig made his way through the 
narrow and crowded streets, till he reached a large house, 
the lower windows of which were secured by iron bars ; 
while, on the drawing-room floor, the panes of glass were 
large, and showed white curtains within ; the attic windows 
again being dirty, dusty, and here and there broken ; in 
short, the house had a disreputable air, reminding one of 
an old gipsy, who has thrown a new and gaily-coloured 
shawl over her rags. 

Into this house he entered, kissing his hand to a smart 
maid-servant, who resented the liberty. The dirty stair- 
case led to a white door, on which the name " Hirsch 
Ehrenthal " was inscribed. He rang ; and an old woman, 
with a torn cap, appeared, w^ho, having heard his trequest, 
called out to those within, " Here is one from Ostrau, 
Itzig Veitel by name, who wishes to speak to Mr. 
Ehrenthal." A loud voice rephed, " Let him wait and 
the clatter of plates showed that the man of business meant 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



31 



to finish his supper before he gave the future millionnaire 
a hearing. Accordingly, Veitel sat upon the steps admiring 
the brass plate and the white door, and wondering how the 
name of Itzig would look upon just such another. That 
led him to reflect how far he was from being as rich as this 
Hirsch Ehrenthal ; and, feeling the half-dozen ducats his 
mother had sewn into his waistcoat, he began to speculate 
how much he could daily add to them, provided the rich 
man took him into his service. In the midst of these re- 
flections the door was flung open, and Mr. Ehrenthal stood 
before him, no longer the same man we saw in the 
morning ; the deference, the kindness, were all gone. No 
eastern despot so proud and lofty. Itzig felt his own 
insignificance, and stood humbly before his master. 

" Here is a letter to Baruch Goldmann, in which Mr. 
Ehrenthal has sent for me," began Veitel. 

" I wrote Goldmann word to send you, that I might see 
whether you would suit ; nothing is yet settled," was the 
dignified reply. 

" I came, that you might see me, sir." 

" And why did you come so late, young Itzig ? this is 
not the time for business." 

" I wished to show myself to-night, in case, sir, you 
should have any commission to give me for to-morrow. I 
thought I might be useful as it is market-day ; and I know 
most of the coachmen of the farmers who come in with 
rape-seed and other produce ; and I know many of the 
brokers too." 

" Ai'e your papers in good order," was the reply, " so 
that I may have no trouble with the pohce V 

When Veitel had given satisfaction on this important 



32 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



subject, Ehrenthal vouchsafed to say, " If I take you into 
my house, you must turn your hand to anything that 
I, or Mrs. Ehrenthal, or my son, may chance to order ; 
you must clean the boots and shoes, and run errands for 
the cook." 

" I will do anything, Mr. Ehrenthal, to make you 
satisfied with me," was the humble reply. 

" For this you will receive two dollars a month ; and, 
if T make a good bargain by your assistance, you will have 
your share. As for your sleeping quarters, they had better 
be with Lobel Pinkus, that I may know where to find you 
when wanted." So saying, Ehrenthal opened the door, and 
called, " Wife, Bernhard, Rosalie, come here." 

Mrs. Ehrenthal was a portly lady in black silk, with 
strongly-marked eyebrows, and black ringlets ; who laid 
herself out to please, and was extremely successful, report 
averred. As for her daughter, she was indeed a perfect 
beauty, with magnificent eyes and complexion, and a very 
slightly aquiline nose. But how came Bernhard to be one 
of the family ? Short, slight, with a pale, deeply-lined face, 
and bent figure ; it was only his mouth and his clear eye 
that bespoke him young, and he was more negligently 
attired, too, than might have been expected. They all looked 
at Veitel in silence, while Ehrenthal proceeded to say that 
he had taken him into his service ; and Veitel himself men- 
tally resolved to be very subservient to the mother, to fall 
in love with the daughter, to clean carelessly Bernhard' s 
boots, and carefully to search his pocket in brushing his 
coat. On the whole, he was well pleased with the 
arrangement made, and smiled to himself as he went 
along to Lobel Pinkus. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



33 



This Lobel Pinkus was a householder who kept a spirit- 
shop on the ground-floor ; but one thing was certain, no 
mere spirit-shop could have enriched him as this did. 
However, he bore a good character. The police willingly 
took a glass at his counter, for which he always declined 
payment. He paid his taxes regularly, and passed, indeed, 
for a friend of the executive. On the first floor he kept 
a lodgmg- house for bearded and beardless Jews. These 
gentlemen generally slipped in late and out early. Besides 
such regular guests, others of every age, sex, and creed ar- 
rived at irregular intervals. These had strictly private 
dealings with the host, and showed a great objection to 
having a lucifer match struck near their faces. The 
other lodgers took their own views of these peculiarities, 
but judged it best to keep them to themselves. In this 
house it was that Itzig went up a dark stair, and, 
groping along a dirty wall, came to a heavy oaken door, 
with a massive bolt, and, after a good push, entered a 
waste-looking room that ran the whole length of the housel 
In the middle stood an old table with a wretched oil lamp, 
and opposite the door a great partition, with several smaller 
doors, some of which were open, and showed that the whole 
consisted of narrow sub-divisions, with hooks for hanging 
clothes. The small windows had faded blinds, but, on thc^ 
opposite side of the room, the twilight entered through an 
open door that led to a wooden gallery running along tlie 
outside of the house. 

Itzig threw down his bundle, and went out on this 
gallery, which he viewed with much interest. Below 
him rolled a rapid stream of dirty water, hemmed in on 
either side by dilapidated wooden houses, most of which 

c 



34 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



had similar galleries to every storey. In olden times, the 
worthy guild of dyers had inhabited this street, but 
now they had changed their quarters ; and, instead of shee[) 
and goat skins, there hung over the worm-eaten railings 
only the clothes of the poor put out to dry. Their colours 
contrasted strangely with the black wood-work ; the light 
fell in a remarkable way upon the rude carvings, and the 
dark posts that started here and there out of the water. In 
short, it was a wretched place, save for cats, painters, or 
poor devils. 

Young Itzig had already been here more than once, but 
never alone. Now he observed that a long covered stair- 
case led down from the gallery to the water's edge, and 
that a similar one ran up to the next house ; whence he 
concluded that it would be possible to go from one house 
to another, without doing more than wetting the feet ; also, 
that when the water was low, one could walk along at the 
base of the houses, and he wondered whether there were 
men who availed themselves of these possibilities. His 
fancy was so much excited by this train of thought, that 
he ran back, crept into the partition, and found out that 
the wall at the back of it was also of wood. As this was 
the wall dividing the neighbouring house from the one in 
which he was, he considered it a pleasant discovery, and 
was just going to see whether some chink in the main wall 
might not afford a further prospect, when disturbed by a 
hollow murmur, which showed him that he was not alone. 
So he settled himself upon a bag of straw opposite his 
companion, who was too sleepy to talk much. By and by 
Pinkus came in, placed a jug of water on the table, and 
locked the door outside. Itzig ate in the dark the diy 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



35 



bread he had in his pocket, and at length fell asleep to the 
snoring of his companion. 

At the same hour his fellow-traveller wrapped himself 
round in his comfortable bed, looked about him more asleep 
than awake, and fancied that he saw the stucco cat rise on 
his feet, stretch out his paws, and proceed to wash his face. 
Before he had time to marvel at this, he fell asleep. Both 
the youths had tlieir dreams. Anton's was of sitting on 
a gigantic bale, and flying on it through the air, while 
a certain lovely young lady stretched her arms out towards 
him ; and Itzig's was of having become a Baron, and been 
teased into flinging an alms to old Elirenthal. 

The following morniiig each set to work. Anton sat at 
the desk and copied letters; while Itzig, having brushed 
the collective boots and shoes of the Ehrenthal family, sta- 
tioned himself as a spy at the door of the principal hotel, 
to watch a certain gentleman who was discontented with 
his master, and suspected of applying to other moneyed 
men. 

The first idle hour he had, Anton drew from memory 
the castle, the balcony, and the tuiTets, on the best paper 
the town could aff'ord ; the next, he put the drawing in a 
gilt frame, and hung it over his sofa. 



I 



36 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER V. 

TUST at first Anton found some difficulty in adapting him- 
self to the new world in which he was placed. 
The business was one of a kind becoming rare now-a- 
days, when railroads and telegraphs unite remotest districts, 
and every merchant sends from the heart of the country to 
bid his agents purchase goods almost before they reach the 
shore. Yet there was a something about this old-fashioned 
house of a dignified, almost a princely character ; and, 
what was still better, it was well calculated to inspire 
confidence. At the time of which we speak, the sea was 
far off, facilities of communication were rare, so that the 
merchants' speculations were necessarily more independent, 
and involved greater hazard. The importance of such a mer- 
cantile house as this depended upon the quantity of stores it 
bought with its own money and at its own risk. Of these, a 
great part lay in long rows of warehouses along the river, 
some in the vaults of the old house itself, and some in the 
warehouses and stores of those around. Most of the trades- 
men of the province provided themselves with colonial 
produce from the warehouses of the firm, whose agents were 
spread to east and south, and carried on, even as far as the 
Turkish frontier, a business which, if less regular and secure 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



37 



than the home trade, was often more hicrative than any- 
other. 

Thus it happened that the everyday routine afforded to 
the new apprentice a wide diversity of impressions and 
experiences. A varied procession poured through the 
counting-house from morning to evening ; men of different 
costumes, all offering samples of different articles for sale. 
Polish Jews, beggars, men of business, carriers, porters, 
servants, etc. Anton found it difficult to concentrate his 
thoughts amidst this endless going and coming, and to get 
through his work, simple as it was. 

For instance, Mr. Braun, the agent of a friendly house in 
Hamburgh, had just come in and taken a sample of coffee 
out of his pocket. While it was being submitted to the 
principal, the agent went on gesticulating with his gold- 
headed cane, and talking about a recent storm, and the 
damage it had done. The door creaked, and a poorly- 
dressed woman entered. 

" What do you want asked Mr. Specht. 

Then came lamentable sounds, like the peeping of a sick 
hen, which changed, as soon as the merchant had put his 
hand into his pocket, into a joyful chuckle. 

" Waves mountain-high, " cried the agent. 

" God reward you a thousand-fold," chuckled the woman. 

" Comes to 550 merks, 10 shillings," said Baumann to 
the principal. 

And now the door was vehemently pushed open, and a 
stoutly-built man entered, with a bag of money under his 
arm, which he triumphantly deposited on the marble table, 
exclaiming, with the air of one doing a good action, " Here 
am I ; and here is money !" 



38 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Mr. Jordcan rose immediately, and said, in a friendly voice, 
" Good morning, Stephen ; how goes the world in 

Wolfsburg r 

" A dreadful hole ! " groaned Mr. Braun. 

" Where ? " inquired Fink. 

" 'Not such a bad place either," said Mi'. Stephen ; 
" but little business doing." 

" Sixty-five sacks of Cuba," returned the principal to 
a question of one of the clerks. 

Meanwhile, the door opened again, and this time 
admitted a man-servant and a Jew from Brody. The 
servant gave the merchant a note of invitation to a dinner- 
party — the Jew crept to the corner where Fink sat. 

"What brings you again, Schnieie Tinkeles ?" coldly 
asked Fink; "I have already told you that we would have 
no dealings with you." 

" No dealings !" croaked the unlucky Tinkeles, in such 
execrable German that Anton had difficulty in understand- 
ing him. " Such wool as I bring, has never been seen 
before in this country." 

"How much the hundredweight ?" asked Fink, writing, 
without looking at the Jew. 

" What I have already said." 

" You are a fool," said Fink ; " off with you 1" 

"Alas!" screamed he of the caftan, "what language is 
that? ' Off with you !' — there's no dealing so."' 

" What do you want for your wool V 

" 4 If," said Tinkeles. 

"Get out !" suggested Fink. 

" Don t go on for ever saying 'G^t out !' " implored the 
Jew in despair ; " say what you will give." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



39 



" If you ask sucli unreasonable prices, nothing at all," 
replied Fink, beginning another sheet. 
" Only say what you will give." 

" Come then, if you sjjeak like a rational man," an- 
swered Fink, looking at the Jew. 

" I am rational," M^as the low reply ; " what will you 
giver' 

" Thirty-nine," said Fink. 

At that Schmeie Tinkeles went distracted, shook his 
black greasy hair, and swore by all he held holy, that 
he could not give it under 4 1 ; whereupon Fink signified, 
that he should be put out by one of the servants if he made 
so much noise. The Jew, therefore, went off in high 
dudgeon ; soon, however, jDuttiug his head in again, and 
asking, " Well, then, what will you give ?" 

" Thirty-]iine," said Fink, watching the excitement he 
thus raised, much as an anatomist might the galvanic con- 
vulsions of a frog. The words "thirty-nine" occasioned 
a fresh explosion in the mind of the Jew; he came for- 
ward, solemnly committed his soul to the deepest abyss, 
and declared himself the most unworthy wretch alive if he 
took less than 41. As he could not profit by Fink's repeated 
exhortations to quit, a servant was called. His appearance 
was so far composing, that Mr. Tinkeles now declared he 
could go alone, and would go alone ; whereupon, he stood 
-still, and said 40^. The agent, the provincials, and the 
whole counting-house watched the progress of the bargain 
with some curiosity ; while Fink, with a certain degree of 
cordiality, proceeded to counsel the poor Jew to retire 
without further discussion, seeing that he was an utter 
fool, and there really was no deahng with him. Once more 



40 



BEBIT AND CREDIT. 



the Jew went out, and Fink said to the principal, who was 
reading a letter the while, " He'll let us have the wool, if 
I let him have another half dollar." 

" How much is there of it asked the merchant. 

" Six tons," said Fink. 

" Take it," said Mr. Scln-oter, reading on. 

Again the door opened and shut, the chattering went 
on, and Anton kept wondering how they could speak of a 
purchase when the seller had been so decided in his refusal 
of their terms. Once more the door was gently pushed 
open, and Tinkeles, creeping behind Fink, laid his hand on 
his shoulder, and said in a melancholy but confidential voice, 
" What will you give, then ?" 

Fink turned round, and replied with a good-natured smile, 
"If you please to take it, Tinkeles, but only on the 

condition that you do not speak another word ; otherwise 
I retract the offer." 

" I am not speaking," answered the Jew. " Say 40." 

Fink made a movement of impatience, and silently 
pointed to the door. The wool-dealer went out once 
more. 

" Now for it !" said Fink. 

In a moment or two Tinkeles returned, and, with more 
composure of manner, brought out " 39^, if you will take 
it at that." 

After some appearance of uncertainty. Fink carelessly re- 
plied, " So be it then ;" at which Schmeie Tinkeles under- 
went an utter transformation, behaving like an amiable 
friend of the firm, and politely inquiring after the health of 
the principal. 

And so it went on ; the door creaking, buyers and sellers 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



41 



coming and going, men talking, pens scratching, and money 
pouring ceaselessly in. 

The household, of which Anton now formed part, 
appeared to him to be most impressive and singular. The 
house itself was an irregular and ancient building, with 
wings, court-yards, out-houses, short stairs, mysterious 
passages, and deep recesses. In the front part of it were 
handsome apartments, occupied by the merchant's family. 
Mr. Schroter had only been married for a very short time, 
his wife and child had died within the year, and his sister 
was now his only near relation. 

The merchant adhered rigidly to the old customs of the 
firm. All the unmarried clerks formed part of the house- 
hold, and dined with him punctually at one o'clock. On 
the day after Anton's arrival, a few minutes before that 
hour, he was taken to be introduced to the lady of the 
house, and gazed with wonder at the elegance and magnifi- 
(tence of the rooms through which he passed on his way to 
her presence. 

Sabme Schroter's pale, delicate face, crowned with hair 
of raven black, shone out very fair above her graceful 
summer attire. She seemed about Anton's own age, but 
she had the dignity of a matron. 

" My sister governs us all," said the merchant, looking 
fondly at her. "If you have any wish, make it known 
to her ; she is the good fairy who keeps the house in 
order." 

Anton looked at the fauy, and modestly replied, 
" Hitherto I have found everything exceed my wishes." 

" Your life will, in time, appear a monotonous one," con- 
tinued the merchant. " Ours is a rigidly regular house, 



42 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



where you have much work to look forward to, and little 
recreation. My time is much engrossed ; but, if you should 
ever need advice or assistance, I hope you will apply directly 
to myself." 

This short audience over, he rose and led Anton to the 
dining-room, where all his colleagues were assembled ; next, 
Sabine entered, accompanied by an elderly lady, a distant 
relation, who looked very good-natured. The clerks made 
theii- obeisance, and Anton took the seat appointed to 
him at the end of a long table, amongst the younger 
of his brethren. Opposite him sat Sabine, beside her 
brother, then the elderly relative, and next to her. Fink. 
On the whole it was a silent dinner. Anton's neighbours 
said little, and that under their breath ; but Fink rattled 
away with thorough unconcern, told droll stories, mimicked 
voices and manners, and was exaggerated in his attentions 
to the good-natured relative. Anton was positively liorrilied 
at this freedom, and fancied that the principal did not like 
it much better. The black-coated domestics waited with 
the utmost propriety ; and Anton rose with the impression 
that this repast had been the most solemn and stately of 
which he had ever partaken, and that he should get on 
with all the household with the exception of " that Von 
Fink." 

One day that they accidentally met on the staircase, Fink, 
who had not for some time appeared conscious of his ex- 
istence, stopped and asked him, "Well, Master Wohlfart, 
how does this house suit you?" 

To which Anton replied, " Exceedingly well, indeed. I 
see and hear so much that is new to me, that I have 
hardly thought of myself as yet." 



DEBIT AKD CREDIT. 



43 



" You'll soon get accustomed to it," said Fink, laughing ; 
one day is the same as the other all the year long. On 
Simday, an extra good dinner, a glass of wine, and your 
best coat — that's all. You are one of the wheels in the 
machine, and will be expected to gi'ind regularly." 

" I am aware that I must be industrious in order to 
merit Mr. Schroter's confidence," was the rather indignant 
reply. 

" Truly a virtuous remark ! but you'll soon see, my 
poor lad, what a gulf is fixed between the head of the firm 
and those who write his letters. No prince on earth stands 
so fixr removed above his vassals as this same coff'ee-lord 
above his clerks. But do not lay much stress upon what 
I say," added he, more good-naturedly ; " the whole house 
will tell you that I am not quite compos. However, I'll give 
you a piece of good advice. Get an English master, and 
make some progress before you get rusty. All they teach 
you here will never make a clever man of you, if you 
happen to want to be one. Good-night." And turning 
upon his heel, he left our Anton somewhat disconcerted. 
Indeed, he too, in course of time, began to be conscious of 
the monotony of a business-life, but he did not fret about 
it, having been taught by his parents habits of industiy 
and order. 

Mr. Jordan took much pains to initiate him into the 
mysteries of divers wares ; and the hours that he first 
spent in the warehouses, amidst the varied produce of diff'e- 
rent lands, were fraught with a certain poetry of their own, 
as good, perhaps, as any other. There was a large, gloomy, 
vaulted room on the ground-floor, in which lay stores for 
the traffic of the day. Tuns, bales, chests, were piled on 



44 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



each other, which every land, every race, had contributed to 
fill. The floating palace of the East India Company, the 
swift American brig, the patriarchal ark of the Dutchman, 
the stout-ribbed whaler, the smoky steamer, the gay Chinese 
junk, the light canoe of the Malay, — all these had battled 
with winds and waves to furnish this vaulted room. A 
Hindoo woman had woven that matting ; a Chinese had 
painted that chest ; a Congo negro, in the service of a 
Virginian planter, had looped those canes over the cotton 
bales ; that square block of zebra-wood had gi'own in the 
primeval forests of the Brazils, and monkeys and bright- 
liued parrots had chattered among its branches. Anton would 
stand long in this ancient hall, after Mr. Jordan's lessons 
were over, absorbed in wonder and interest, till roof and 
pillars seemed transformed to broad-leaved palm-trees, and 
the noise of the streets to the roar of the sea — a sound he 
only knew in his dreams ; and this delight in what was 
foreign and unfamiliar never wore off ; but led him to b(^- 
come, by reading, intimately acquainted with the countries 
whence all these stores came, and with the men by whom 
they were collected. 

Thus the first months of his life in the capital fled 
rapidly away ; and it was well for him that he took so 
much interest in his studies, for Fink proved right in one 
respect. In spite of the daily meal in the stately dining- 
room, Anton remained as great a stranger as ever to the 
principal and his family. He was too rational, indeed, to 
murmur at this, but he could not avoid feeling depressed 
by it ; for, with the enthusiasm of youth, he was ready to 
revere his chief as the ideal of mercantile greatness. He 
admired his sagacity, decision, energy, and inflexible upright- 



DEBIT AN I) CREDIT. 



45 



ness, and would have been devoted to him heart and soul, 
but that he so seldom saw him. When the merchant was not 
engaged by business, he lived for his sister, whom he most 
tenderly loved. For her he kept a carriage and horses which 
he himself never used ; and gave evening jDarties to which 
Anton and his colleagues were not invited. Gay equipages 
rolled in one after the other, liveried servants ran up and 
down stairs, and graceful shadows flitted across the win- 
dows ; while Anton sat in his little upper chamber, and 
yearned eagerly after the brilliant gaieties in which he had 
no part. True, his reason told him that they did not belong 
to men of his class, but at nineteen reason is not always 
supreme ; and many a time he went back with a sigh from 
his window to his books, and tried to forget the alluring 
strains of the quadrille and waltz in the descriptions of the 
lion s roar and the bull-frog s croak in the far-off tropics. 



46 



DEBIT AND CREDIT 



CHAPTER VL 



T^HE Baron of Rothsattel had moved to his town resi- 
dence. It was not indeed large ; but its furniture, the 
arabesques on its walls, the arrangement of its hangings, 
were so graceful, that it ranked as a model of comfort and 
elegance. The Baron had made all his preparations in 
silence. At length the day came when the new carriage 
stopped at the door, and lifting down his wife, he led her 
through the suite of apartments to her own little boudoir, 
all fitted up with white silk. Enchanted beyond measure, 
she flew into his arms, and he felt as proud and happy as 
a king. They were soon perfectly settled, and able to begin 
their course of visiting. 

It was the custom of a large portion of the nobility to spend 
the winter in town, and accordingly the Rothsattels met many 
friends, and several of .their acquaintance. Every one was 
pleased to welcome them, and after a few weeks they found 
themselves immersed in gaiety. The Baroness soon became 
a leader of the feminine world, and her husband, after at 
first missing his walks through his farm and his woods^ 
began to take equal pleasure in reviving his youthful ac- 
quaintance. He became member of a nobleman's club, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



47 



indulged his virtuoso tendencies, played whist, and filled 
his idle hours with a little politics and a little art. And 
so the winter passed pleasantly on, and the Baron and his 
wife often wondered why they had not earlier indulged in 
this agreeable variety. 

Lenore was the only one dissatisfied with the change. 
She continued to justify her mother's fear lest she should 
become an original. She found it difficult to pay proper 
respect to the numberless elderly cousins of the family, and 
still more difficult to refrain from accosting first any plea- 
sant gentlemen she had known in the country, and now 
chanced to meet in the streets. Likewise, the Young Lady's 
Institution, which she had to attend, was in many ways 
objectionable to her. She had certain maps and tiresome 
lesson-books to take to and fro, and her mother did not 
approve of the servants' time being occupied in carrying 
them after her. One day, when walking like an angry 
Juno — the tokens of her slavery upon her arm, and her 
little parasol in her hand — she beheld the young gentleman 
to whom she had shown her flower-garden coming to 
meet her, and she rejoiced at it, for he was pleasantly 
associated in her mind with home, the pony, and the 
family of swans. He was still some way off" when her 
hawk's eye discerned him, but he did not see her even when 
he came nearer. As her mother had forbidden her ever 
to accost a gentleman in the street, there was nothing for 
it but to stand still and to strike her parasol on the flags. 
Anton looked up and saw to his pleasant surprise the lovely 
lady of the lake. Blushing, he took ofl" his hat, and Lenore 
observed with satisfaction, that in spite of the satchel on 
her arm, she impressed him as much as ever. 



48 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" How are you, sir ?" she inquired, in a dignified way. 

" Very well," replied Anton ; " how delighted I am to 
Kee you in town ! " 

" We are living here at present," said the young lady 
with less stateliness, " at No. 20, Bear-street." 

" IVIay I inquire for the pony?" said Anton respectfully. 

" Only think, he had to be left behind I " was the 
sorrowful reply ; " and what are you doing here f ' 

" I am in the house of T. 0. Schroter," said Anton, 
bowing. 

" Oh ! a merchant ; and what do you deal in ?" 

" In colonial produce. It is the largest firm in that 
department in the whole town," replied Anton, compla- 
cently. 

" And have you met with kind pcojile wlio take care 
of you V 

" My principal is very kind, but I must take care of 
myself." 

" Have you any friends here with whom you can amiise 
yourself?" 

" A few acquaintances. But I have much to do, and I 
must improve myself in my leisure hours." 

" You look rather pale," said the young lady, with 
motherly interest ; " you should move more about aud take 
long walks. I am glad to have met you, and shall be pleased 
to hear of your well-doing," added she majestically ; and 
with an inclination of her pretty little head, she vanished 
in the crowd, while Anton remained gazing after her, hat 
in hand. 

Lenore did not consider it necessary to mention this 
meeting. But a few days later, when the Baroness hap- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



49 



pened to inquire where they should get some necessary 
stores, she looked up from her book and said, " The largest 
firm here is that of T. 0. Schroter, dealer in colonial pro- 
duce." 

" How do you know that?" inquired her father, laugh 
ing : " you speak like an experienced merchant." 

"All the result of the Young Lady's Institution," 
answered Lenore pertly. 

Meanwhile, in the midst of his social pleasures, the 
Baron did not forget the chief end of his town-life. He 
made close inquiries as to the speculations of other landed 
proprietors, visited the factories in the town, became 
acquainted with educated manufacturers, and acquired some 
knowledge of machinery. But the information thus gained 
was so contradictory, that he thought it best not to pre- 
cipitate matters, but to wait till some specially advantageous 
and safe undertaking should offer. 

We must not omit to mention, that about this time 
the family property was increased by a small, handsome, 
brass-inlaid casket, with a lock that defied any thief's 
power of opening, so that if minded to steal, he would 
have nothing for it but to carry off the casket itself. In it 
were laid forty-five thousand dollars, in the form of new 
promissory-notes. The Baron contemplated these with 
much tenderness. At fii'st he would sit for hours opposite 
the open casket, never weary of arranging the parchment 
leaves according to their numbers, delighting in their glossy 
whiteness, and forming plans for paying off the capital ; 
and even when, for safety's sake, the casket had been made 
over to the keeping of the Joint-Stock Company, the thought 
of it was a continual pleasure. Nay, the spirit of the 

D 



50 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



casket began to peep out even in houseliold arrangements. 
The Baroness was surprised at her husband counselling certain 
economies, or telling with a degree of pleasure of ten louis- 
d'or won last evening at cards. She was at first a little 
afraid that he had become in some way embarrassed ; but, 
as he assured her, with a complacent smile, that this was far 
from being the case, she soon learnt to treat these little 
attempts at saving as an innocent whim, especially as they 
only extended to trifling details ; the Baron insisting as 
much as ever upon keeping up a dignified and imposing 
social appearance. Indeed, it was impossible for him to 
retrench just now. The towm-life, the furnishing of the 
house, and the necessary claims of society, of course increased 
the outgoings. 

And so it came to pass, that the Baron, after having paid 
a visit to his property to settle the yearly accounts, returned 
to town much out of tune. He had become aware that the 
expenditure of the last year had exceeded the income, and 
that the income of the next year gave no promise of 
balancing the existing deficit of two thousand dollars. The 
thought occurred that the sum must be taken from the 
white parchments ; and the man who would have stood 
calm beneath a shower of bullets, broke out into a cold per- 
spiration at the idea of the debts thus to be incurred. It was 
plain that there had been an eiTor in his calculations. He 
who wishes to raise a sum by small yearly savings, must 
not increase but lessen his expenditure. True, the in- 
crease in his case had been unavoidable ; but still, a most 
unlucky coincidence. The Baron had not felt such anxiety 
since his lieutenant-days. There were a thousand good 
reasons, however, against giving up the town house ; it was 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



51 



rented for a term of years ; and then, what would his 
acquaintance say 1 So he kept his troubles to himself — 
quieted the Baroness by talking of a cold caught on his 
journey; but all day long the same thought kept gnaw- 
ing at his heart. Sometimes in the evening he was able 
to drive it away a while, but it was sure to return in the 
morning. 

It was on one of these weary mornings that Mr. Ehrenthal, 
who had to pay for some grain, was announced. The very- 
name was at that moment unpleasant to the Baron, and his 
greeting was colder than usual ; but the man of business 
did not mind little ups and downs of temper, paid his 
money, and was profuse in expressions of devoted respect, 
which all fell coldly, till just before going away he inquired, 
"Did the promissory-notes duly arrive ?" 

" Yes," was the ungTacious reply. 

" It is sad," cried Ehrenthal, " to think of forty-five 
thousand dollars lying dead. To you. Baron, a couple of 
thousands or so is a mere trifle, but not to one of my sort. 
At this moment I might speculate boldly, and safely too ; 
but all my money being locked up, I must lose a clear four 
thousand." The Baron listened attentively, the trader 
went on : " You have known me, Baron, for years past, to 
be a man of honour, and of some substance too ; and now, I 
will make a proposition to you. Lend me for three months 
ten thousand dollars' worth of promissory-notes, and I 
wiU give you a bill of exchange, which is as good as money. 
The speculation should bring in four thousand dollars, and 
that I will divide with you, in lieu of interest. You will 
run no risk ; if I fail, I will bear the loss myself, and pay 
back the principal in three months." 



52 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



However uninteresting these words may appear to the 
reader, they threw, the Baron into such a state of joyous 
excitement, that he could scarce command himself sufi&ciently 
to say, " First of all, I must know what sort of a bargain 
it is that you wish to drive with my money." Ehrenthal 
explained. The offer of purchasing a quantity of wood had 
been made to him ; which wood lay on a raft in an upper 
part of the province. He would take all the expense of 
transport on himself ; and he proceeded to demonstrate the 
certain profit of the transaction. 

" But," said the Baron, " how comes it that the present 
proprietor does not carry out this profitable scheme him- 
self?" 

Ehrenthal shrugged his shoulders. " He who means to 
speculate must not always inquire the reason of bargains. 
An embarrassed man cannot wait two or three months ; the 
i-iver is at present frozen, and he wants the money in two 
or three days." 

"Are you sure that his right to sell is incontestable ?" 

" I know the man to be safe," was the reply ; " and that 
if I pay him this evening, the wood is mine." 

Now it was painful to the Baron, much as he wanted 
money, to turn the embarrassment of another to his own 
profit ; and he said, " I consider it unfair to reckon upon 
what is certain loss to the seller." 

" Why should it be certain loss?" cried Ehrenthal. " He 
is a speculator — he wants money ; perhaps he has a greater 
bargain still in his eye. He has offered me the whole 
quantity of wood for ten thousand dollars, and I have no 
business to inquire whether he can or cannot make more of 
my money than I of his wood." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



53 



And so far Ehrenthal was right ; but this was not all. 
The seller was an unlucky speculator, pressed by his 
creditors, threatened v^^iih an execution, and determined to 
frustrate their hopes by driving an immediate bargain with 
a stranger, and then making off with the money. Perhaps 
Ehrenthal knew this ; perhaps the Baron too surmised that 
there must be a mystery, for he shook his head. And yet 
he ran no risk, incurred no responsibility, — he but lent his 
money to a safe man, whom he had known for years, and 
ill a short time he should get rid of the evil genius that 
tormented him ceaselessly. Too much excited to reflect 
whether this was not a casting out of devils by Beelzebub, 
their chief, he rang the bell for his carriage, and said, in a 
lordly tone, " You shall have the money in an hour." 

From that day the Baron led a life of anxious suspense. 
He was always going over this interview, always thinking 
of the piles of wood ; and, whenever he rode out, his horse's 
head was turned to the river that he might watch the 
progress of the thaw. 

He had not seen Ehrenthal for some time. At length 
he came one morning with his endless bows, and taking out 
a large packet, said triumphantly, " Well, Baron, the 
affair is settled. Here are your notes, and here the two 
thousand dollars, your share of the profit." 

The Baron snatched the packet. Yes ; they were the 
very same parchments he had taken out of the casket with 
so heavy a heart, and a bundle of bank-notes besides. A 
weight fell from him. The parchments were safe, the de- 
ficit made up. Ehrenthal was courteously dismissed. 
That very day the Baron bought a turquoise ornament for 



54 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



liis wife, which she had long silently wished for, and 
sunshine prevailed in the family circle. 

But a dark shadow from the recent past had yet to fall 
athwart it. The Baron, reading the paper one day in his 
wife's room, observed an advertisement concerning a bankrupt 
dealer in wood, who had made his escape after swindling 
his creditors. He laid down the paper, and the drops 
stood on his brow. ' If it should be the same man !' 

Ehrenthal had given no name. Had he, a man of 
honour, been the means of defrauding just claims; had 
he taken part in a swindling transaction, ay, and gained 
by it too ! The thought was too fearful. He hurried to 
his desk that he might pack up and send off the accursed 
profits, — whither he knew not, but anywhere, away. He 
saw wdth horror that only a small portion of them re- 
mained. In extreme agitation he rang the beU, and sent 
for Ehrenthal. 

As chance would have it, Ehrenthal was gone on a 
journey. Meanwhile arose those soothing inward voices 
which know so well how to place things doubtful in a 
favourable light. ' How foolish this anxiety ! There were 
hundreds of dealers in wood in that part of the country ; 
and was it likely that this very man should be Ehrenthal's 
client ? Or, even if he were, in a business point of 
view, how could they help the use he might make of their 
money? Nothing could be fairer than the transaction itself.' 
Thus the voices within ; and oh ! how attentively the 
Baron listened. 

But still, w^hen Ehrenthal at length appeared, the Baron 
met him with an expression that positively appalled him. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



55 



" What was the name of the man from whom you bought 
the wood r cried he. 

Ehrenthal had read the newspaper too, and the truth 
now flashed upon him. He gave a name at once. 

" And the place where the wood lay ?" 

Ehrenthal named that too. 

"Are you telling me the truth V asked the Baron, draw- 
ing a third deep breath. 

Ehrenthal saw that he had a sick conscience to deal 
with, and treated the case with the utmost gentleness. 
" AVhat is the Baron uneasy about 1 " said he, shaking his 
head ; " I believe that the man with whom I dealt has 
made a good profit out of the affair. Nothing could be 
more fair than the whole transaction. But even had it 
not been so, why, my good sir, should you be troubled ? 
There was no reason why I should not tell you the names, 
both of the man and place, before ; but I did not do so, be- 
cause the bargain was mine, not yours. I became your 
debtor, and I have repaid you with a bonus. A large one, 
it is true ; but I have dealt with you for years, and why 
should I keep back from you the share of profit which I 
should have had to give any one else 1 " 

" That is all right, Ehrenthal," said the Baron, more 
graciously; " and I am glad that the case stands thus. But 
had this man been the bankrupt in question, I should have 
broken off our connexion, and should never have forgiven 
you for involving me in a fraudulent transaction." 

Ehrenthal bowed himself out, muttering, as he went 
down stairs, " He's a good man, this Baron ; a good, good 
man." 



56 



DEBIT AND CflKDIT. 



CHAPTER VTL 



E now return to Anton, who had been placed under 



the joint command of Messrs. Jordan and Pix, antl 
who found himself the small vassal of a great body-corporate, 
containing a variety of grades and functions little dreamt 
of by the uninitiated. First, in the counting-house, was 
the book-keeper Liebold, who, as minister of the home 
department, reigned supreme and solitary in a window of 
his own, for ever recording figures in a colossal book, and 
seldom looking off their columns. 

In the opposite part of the room ruled the second dig- 
nitary in the state, the cashier Purzel, surrounded by iron 
safes, heavy bags, and with a large stone-table before him, 
on which dollars rung, or grey paper-money fell noiselessly 
the whole day through. 

Jordan was the principal person in the office. He was 
the head-clerk, and his opinion was sometimes asked by the 
principal himself. In him Anton found, from the day of 
his arrival, a good adviser, and an example of activity and 
healthy common sense. 

Of all the clerks under Jordan's superintendence, the 
most interesting to Anton was Baumann, the future mis- 




DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



57 



sionary. Not only was he a truly religious man, he was an 
admirable and infallible accountant. But, besides all these, 
the firm had soine officials who did not live in the 
house. One was Birnbaum, the custom-house clerk, who 
was seldom visible in the office, and only dined with the 
principal on Sundays. Then there was the head of the 
warehouse department, Mr. Balbus, who, though by no 
means a cultivated man, was always treated by the chief 
with great respect ; and, as Anton heard it said, had a 
mother and sick sister entirely dependent upon him. 

But of all these men, the most aggressively active, the 
most despotic in his measures, was Pix, the manager of 
the provincial traffic department. His domain began in 
the office, and extended throughout the house, and far into 
the street. He was the divinity of all the country shop- 
keepers, who looked upon him as the real head of the 
business. He arranged the whole exports of the house, 
knew everything, was always to be found, and could 
do half-a-dozen things at once. Like all dignitaries, he 
was impatient of contradiction, and fought for his opinions 
against the merchant himself, with a stiff-neckedness 
that often horrified Anton. One of his peculiarities was 
that of abhorring a vacuum as much as nature herself. 
Wherever there was an empty corner, a closet, a cellar, a 
recess to be discovered, there Pix would intrude with tuns, 
ladders, ropes, and all imaginable commodities ; and where- 
ever he and his giant band of porters had once got a foot- 
ing, no earthly power could dislodge them, — not even the 
principal himself. 

"Where is Wohlfartf called Mr. Schroter from the door 
of his office. 



58 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Up stairs," calmly replied Pix. 

" What is he doing there?" was the amazed inquiry. 

At that moment loud voices were heard, and Anton 
came thundering down the steps, followed by a servant, 
and both laden with cigar-boxes ; while behind them ap- 
peared the female relative in much excitement. 

" They will not tolerate us up stairs," said Anton hur- 
riedly to Pix. 

"Now they have actually come to the laundry," said 
the lady just as hurriedly to the principal. 

" The cigars cannot stand down here," declared Pix to 
both. 

"And I will not have cigars in the laundry," cried the dis- 
tant cousin. "' I declare there is not a place in the house 
safe from Mr. Pix. He has filled the maid-servants' rooms 
with cigars, and they complain that the smell is intoler- 
able." 

" It is dry up there," explained Mr. Pix to the merchant. 

"Could you not, perhaps, place them elsewhere?" in- 
quired the latter respectfully. 

" Impossible !" was the decided reply. 

"Do you really require the whole laundry, my dear 
cousin ? " said the principal, turning to the lady. 

" The half of it were ample," interpolated Pix. 

" I hope, Pix, you will content yourself with a corner," 
said the head of the firm, by way of decision. " Tell the 
carpenter to run up a partition at once." 

"If Mr. Pix once gets admittance, he will take the 
whole of our laundry," expostulated the too experienced 
cousin. 

" It is the last concession we will make," was the reply. 



DEBIT AND CHEDIT. 



59 



Mr. Pix laiiglied silently, — or grinned rebelliously, as the 
lady phrased it ; and, as soon as the authorities were out 
of sight, sent Anton up again with the cigar-boxes. 

But what chiefly constituted the importance of Pix in the 
eyes of the community, were the Herculean porters under his 
command. When these men rolled mighty casks about, 
and lifted hundredweights like pounds, they seemed to the 
new apprentice like the giants of fairy lore. Some of them 
belonged to this firm exclusively, others to a corporation of 
porters who worked for different houses, but T. 0. Schroter's 
was the house they liked best. For more than one gene- 
ration the head of this particular firm had enjoyed their 
highest consideration, and stood godfather to all their large- 
headed babies. 

Amongst these men, the strongest and tallest was Sturm, 
their chief — a man who could hardly get through naiTow 
streets, and was frequently called to move a weight found 
impracticable by his comrades. Wonderful stories were 
told of his exploits ; and Specht aflSrmed that there was 
nothing on earth beyond his powers. 

His relations with the firm were very intimate indeed ; 
and having an only child, upon whom he doted, and who 
had early lost his mother, he placed him, at the age of 
fifteen, in T. 0. Schroter's house, in a nondescript capacity. 
The boy was a universal favourite, knew every hole and 
corner, collected all the nails and pieces of pack-thread, 
folded all the packing-paper, fed Pluto the watch-dog, 
and did sundry other odd jobs. Up to everything, invari- 
ably good-humoured, and ready-witted, the porters fondly 
called him "our Karl and his father often glanced aside 
from his w^ork to look at him with delight. 



60 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



But in one point Karl did disappoint him : he gave no 
promise of ever attaining to his father's stature. He was 
a handsome, fair-haired, rosy-cheeked youth ; but all the 
giants agreed that he would never be more than a middle- 
sized man ; — and so his father fell into the habit of treating 
him like a sort of delicate dwarf, with the utmost considera- 
tion, and a certain touch of compassion. 

" I don't care," said the indulgent parent to Mr. Pix, 
when introducing the boy into the business, " what the 
little fellow learns besides, so that he does learn to be 
honourable and practical." This was a speech after Mr. 
Fix's own heart ; and this system of education was at once 
begun, by Sturm taking his son into the great vaulted room, 
and saying, " Here are the almonds and the raisins, — taste 
them !" 

" Oh, they are good, father !" cried the boy. 

" I believe you, Liliputian," nodded Sturm. Now, 
see, you may eat as many of them as you like ; neither 
Mr. Schroter, Mr. Pix, nor I shall interfere. But, my 
little lad, you had better see how long you can hold out 
without beginning. The longer the better for yourself, 
and the more honour in it ; and when you can stand it no 
longer, come to me and say ' Enough ;' " upon which he left 
him, having laid his great turnip of a watch on a chest 
standing by. The boy proudly placed his hands in his 
pockets, and walked up and down amongst the goods. 
After more than two hours, he came, watch in hand, to his 
father, exclaiming ' Enough ! ' 

" Two hours and a half," said old Sturm, nodding at 
Mr. Pix. "Very well, child; come and nail up this chest: 
liere is a new hammer for you ; it cost tenpence." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



61 



" It's not worth it," was the reply. " You always pay 
too much." Such was Karl's education. 

The day after Anton's arrival, Pix had introduced him 
to Sturm, and Anton had said in a tone of respect, " This 
is my first experience of business; pray give me a hint 
whenever you can." 

" Everything is to be learnt in time," replied the giant ; 
" yonder is my little boy, who has got on capitally in a 
year. So your father was not a merchant 1 " 

" My father was an accountant ; he is dead," was the 
reply. 

"I am sorry to hear it," said Sturm ; " but you have 
still the comfort of a mother V 
" My mother, too, is dead." 

"Alas! alas!" cried the jwrter compassionately. He 
went on shaking his head for a long time, and at length 
added in a low voice to his Karl, " He has no mother." 

" And no father either," rejoined Karl. 

" Be kind to him, little one," said old Sturm; " you are 
a sort of orphan yourself." 

"Not I," cried Karl; " any one with such a great father 
as mine to look after has his hands full." 

" Why, you are a perfect little monster!" said his father, 
cheerfully hammering away at a cask. 

From that hour Karl showed all manner of small at- 
tentions to Anton, and a species of afifectionate intimacy 
sprang up between the two youths. 

Indeed, Anton was on excellent terms with all the of- 
ficials. He listened attentively to Jordan's sensible remarks, 
was prompt and unconditional in his obedience to Mr. Pix, 
entered into political discussions with Specht, read with 



62 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



interest Baumann's missionary reports, never asked Mr. 
Purzel for money in advance, and often encouraged Mr. 
Liebold to utter some palpable truth without retracting the 
statement. There was only one with whom he could not 
get on well, and that was the volunteer-clerk — Fink. 

One gloomy afternoon, ]\Ir. Jordan chanced to give our 
hero a certain message to take to another house, and, as he 
rose. Fink looked up from his desk, and said to Jordan, 
"Just send him at the same time to the gunsmith — the 
good-for-nothing fellow can send my gun by him." 

Our hero crimsoned. "Do not give me that commission," 
said he to Jordan ; "I shall not execute it." 

"Really!" asked Fink in amazement; "and why not, 
my fine fellow ? " 

"I am not your servant," replied Anton bitterly. " Had 
you requested me to do this for you, I might have complied ; 
but I will take no insolently given orders from you." 

" Dolt !" muttered Fink, and went on \\Titing. 

The whole ofiice had heard him, and every eye turned 
to Anton, whose eyes flashed as he exclaimed, " You have 
insulted me — I will not bear an insult from any one — you 
must explain yourself !" 

"I am not fond of giving any one a thrashing," said 
Fink negligently. 

" Enough!" cried Anton, turning deadly pale; "you shall 
hear farther," and off he rushed to deliver Jordan's message. 

A cold rain was falHng, but Anton vras not aware of it 
— he felt nothing but an agonizing sense of insult and 
wrong. As he reached the establishment he sought, he 
saw his principal's carriage at the door; and, as he came 
out again, he met Sabine, just about to enter it. He 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



63 



could not avoid handing her in ; and, struck with his 
appearance, she asked him what was the matter. 
" A trifle," was the reply. 

Insignificant as the incident was, it changed Anton's 
mood. Her courteous greeting and kindly inquiry raised 
his spirits. He felt that he was no longer a helpless child ; 
and, raising his hand to heaven, his resolve was taken. 

On his return to the office, he quietly went on with his 
work, heedless of the inquiring glances around him ; and, 
when the office was closed, he hurried to Jordan's room, 
where Pix and Specht were already met. They all treated 
him with a commiseration not quite free from contempt ; 
but he, having inquired from Jordan, in their presence, 
whether Fink had any right to give him such an order, 
and whether in his (Jordan's) opinion he had done wrong 
in resenting it, and having been satisfactorily answered on 
both heads, requested a few moments' private conversa- 
tion, and then proceeded to declare that he should demand 
a public apology from Fink. 

" Which he will never consent to," said Jordan, with a 
shake of the head. 

" In that case T challenge him, either with sword or 
pistols." 

Now, if Jordan had seen a dusky vapour rise from his 
ink-bottle, and take the form of a hideous genie, after the 
manner of fairy tales ; and had this genie announced his 
intention of strangling him on the spot, he could not have 
been more amazed. " The devil is in you, Wohlfart," said 
he at last ; " you want to fight a duel with Herr von Fink, 
a dead shot, while you are only an apprentice, and not half 
a year in the business — impossible 1" 



G4 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" 1 should now be a student, if I had not been brought 
up to be a merchant. Curses on business, if it so degrades 
me that I cannot even ask satisfaction for insult. I shall 
go to Mr. Schroter at once, and give in my resignation." 

Jordan's surprise increased. Here was the good-natured 
apprentice transformed before his eyes ! At length it was 
agreed that he should take the message ; but Fink was not 
found at home. " Very possibly he has forgotten all about 
it, and is amusing himself at some club or other," was 
Jordan's commentary on the fact. 

" In that case," said Anton, " I shall at once write to 
him, and have the letter laid on his table." 

Meanwhile great conferences were held in Jordan's room ; 
for, although Pix and Specht had promised secrecy, they 
indulged in such dark and mysterious hints, that the truth 
was soon known. Baumann stole up to Anton to implore 
him not to peril two human lives for the sake of a rough 
word ; and, when he was gone, Anton found a New Testa- 
ment on his table, open at the words, " Bless them that 
curse you." Although not exactly in the mood to enter 
into their spirit, he took up the sacred book, and, having 
read the passages his good mother so often repeated to him, 
he prepared for bed in a softened frame of mind. 

Meanwhile, a rumour of some impending catastrophe 
pervaded the whole house. 

Sabine was in her treasure-chamber. Along its walls 
stood great oaken-presses, richly carved ; in the middle, a 
table with twisted legs, and a few old-fashioned chairs 
around. On the shelves of the presses appeared piles of 
linen, and rows of glass, china, and plate, collected by the 
taste of more than three generations. The air was fragrant 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



65 



with old lavender and recent eau-de-cologne. Here Sabine 
reigned supreme ; she herself took out and replaced whatever 
was wanted, and was not fond of admitting any other 
person. She was now standing at the table, which was 
covered with newly-washed linen, and as she looked over 
the arabesques of the exquisitely fine table-napkins, a cloud 
passed over her brow. Two, three, four holes ! She rang 
for the servant. 

" It is intolerable, Franz," said she ; there are three 
spoiled now in No. 24 ; one of the gentlemen nms his 
fork through the napkins. There is surely no need for that 
here." 

" That there is not," was the indignant reply ; " the 
plate is under my own care." 

" Which of the gentlemen is so reckless ?" asked Sabine 
severely. 

"It is Herr von Fink," w^as the reply ; "he has a habit 
of constantly running his fork through the napkins. It goes 
to my heart. Miss Sabine ; but what can I do ?" 

Sabine hung her head. " I knew that it was he," she 
sighed ; " but we cannot go on thus. I wiU give you a 
set for Herr von Fink's use, and we must sacrifice it." 
She went to the cupboard, and began to look for one, but 
the choice was difficult ; the beautiful table-linen was dear 
to her heart. At length, with a lingering look at the 
pattern, she sorrowfully laid a set on the servant's arm. 

Franz stiU lingered. " He has burnt a curtain in his 
bedroom," said he ; " the pair is spoiled." 

" And they were quite new ! " sighed Sabine again. 
" Take them away to-morrow. What more, Franz ? What 
else has happened 1 " 

E 



66 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Ah, ma'am," replied the servant mysteriously, " Herr 
von Fink has insulted Herr Wohlfart, who is quite raging, 
and Herr Specht says there is to be a duel." 

"A duel!" cried Sabine; "you must have misunder- 
stood Herr Specht." 

" No, indeed, ma'am ; it's all too true. Something dread- 
ful will happen. Herr Wohlfart brushed past me angrily, 
and did not touch his tea." 

" Has my brother returned ?" 

" He does not come back till late to-day ; he is on com- 
mittee." 

"Very well," said Sabine ; "say nothing about it, Franz, 
to any one." 

And Sabine sat down again at the table, but the damask 
was forgotten. " So that was what made poor Wohlfart 
look so sad ! This wild youth ! he came to us like a whirl- 
wind, and the blossoms all fall in his path. His whole 
life is confusion and excitement, and he carries away with 
him all who approach within his reach. Even me ! even 
me ! Do what I will, I too feel his spell ! so beautiful, so 
brilliant, so strange ! He is always grieving me ; and yet 
all day long I am thinking and caring about him. Oh, my 
mother ! it was in this room that I sat at your feet for the 
last time, when, with your hand on my head, you prayed that 
Heaven might shield me from every sorrow. Beloved 
mother ! shield thy daughter against her own beating heart. 
Strengthen me against him, his ensnaring levity ; his daring 
mockery ! " 

Long did Sabine sit thus, communing with her guardian 
spirits. Then wiping her eyes, she resolutely returned to 
count and arrange the table-linen. 



i 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



67 



Anton had got into bed, and was just going to put out 
his candle, when a loud knock was heard at his door, and 
the man he least expected stood before him : Herr von 
Fink himself, with his riding-whip, and his usual careless 
manner. ''Ah, in bed already!" said he, sitting astride on 
a chair close by. "I am sorry to disturb you. You 
have written me a very spirited letter, and Jordan has told 
me the rest ; so I am come to answer you in person." 

Anton was silent, and looked darkly at him. 

" You are all good and very sensitive people," contiiuied 
Fink, whipping his boots ; "I am sorry that you took 
my words so to heart, but I am glad you have so much 
spirit." 

" Before I listen further," said Anton angrily, " I nmst 
know whether it is your intention to make an apology to 
me before the other gentlemen. Perhaps a more experi- 
enced man would not consider this sufficient, but it would 
satisfy me." 

" There you are right," nodded Fink ; " you may be quite 
satisfied." 

"Will you make this apology to-morrow morning?" in- 
(^uired Anton. 

" Why should I not % I don't want to fight with you, 
and I will declare before the assembled firm that you are 
a hopeful young man, and that I was wrong to insult one 
younger and — forgive me the expression — much greener 
than myself." 

Our hero listened with mingled feelings, and then de- 
clared that he was not satisfied with this explanation. 
« my not ?" asked Fink. 

" Your manner at this moment is unpleasant to me — 



68 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



you show me less respect than is conveutional. I know 
that I am young, have seen little of the world, and that in 
many points you are my superior ; but, for these very 
reasons, it would better become you to behave differently."' 
Fink stretched out his hand good-humouredly, and said 
in reply, " Do not be angry with me, and give me your 
hand." 

" I cannot do so yet," cried Anton, with emotion ; "you 
must first assure me that you do not treat the matter thus 
because you consider me too young or too insignificant, or 
because you are noble, and I am not." 

" Hark ye, Master Wohlfart," said Fink, " you are run- 
ning me desperately hard. However, we'll settle these 
points too. As for my German nobility " — he snapped his 
fingers — " I would not give that for it ; and as for your 
youth and position, all I can say is, that after what I have 
seen this evening, the next time we quarrel, I will fight you 
with any murderous weapon that you may prefer." And 
again he held out his hand, and said, " Now then, take it ; 
we have settled everything." 

Anton laid his hand in his, and Fink having heartily 
shaken it, wished him good-night. 

The following morning, the clerks being all assembled 
earlier than usual, Fink made , his appearance last, and said 
in a loud voice, " My Lords and Gentlemen of the export 
and home-trade, — I yesterday behaved to Mr. Wohlfart in 
a manner that I now sincerely regret. I have already 
apologized to him, and I repeat that apology in your pre- 
sence ; and beg to say, that our friend Wohlfart has behaved 
admirably throughout, and that I rejoice to have him for a 
colleague." At this the clerks smiled, Anton shook hands 



DEBIT AKD CREDIT. 



69 



with Fink, Jordan with both of them, and the affair was 
settled. 

But it had its results. It raised Anton's position in the 
opinion of his brother-officials, and entirely changed his rela- 
tion to Fink, who, a few days after, as they were running 
up stairs, stopped and invited him into his OAvn apartment, 
that they might smoke a friendly cigar. 

It was the first time that Anton had crossed the thresh- 
old of the volunteer, and he stood amazed at the aspect of 
his room. Handsome furniture all in confusion, a carpet 
soft as moss, on whose gorgeous flowers cigar-ashes were 
recklessly strewed. On one side a great press full of 
guns, rifles, and other weapons, with a foreign saddle and 
heavy silver spurs hanging across it ; on the other a 
large book-case, handsomely carved, and full of well-bound 
books, and above, the outspread wings of some mighty 
bird. 

"What a number of books you have!"' cried Anton in 
delight. 

" Memorials of a world in which I no longer live." 

" And those wings ; are they a part of those memorials ] " 

" Yes, they are the wings of a condor. I am proud 
of them, as you see," answered Fink, offering Anton a 
packet of cigars, and propelling a great arm-chair towards 
him vAdth his foot. " And now let us have a chat. Are 
you knowing in horses 

" No," said Anton. 

" Are you a sportsman ?" 

" Not that either." 

" Are you musical ?" 

" Veiy slightly so,'' said Anton. 



70 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Why, what specialities liave you, then, in Heaven's 
name ?" 

" Few in your sense of the Avortl," answered Anton in- 
dignantly. " I can love those who please me, and can, I 
believe, be a tme friend ; I can also resent insolence." 

" Very well," said Fink, " I am quite aware of that. I 
know there is plenty of spirit in you. Now let me hear 
what fate has hurled you into this dreary treadmill, where 
all must at last grow dusty and resigned, like Liebold ; 
or at best pmictual and precise, like Jordan. 

" It was a kind fate after all," replied Anton, and began 
to tell the story of his life. 

Fink kept nodding approvingly, and then said — " After 
all, the greatest difference between us is, that you remember 
your mother, and I do not mine. I have known people 
who found less love in their home than you have done." 

" You have seen so much of the world," fjleaded Ant(m ; 
" pray, let me hear how you chanced to come here." 

" Very simply," began Fink ; " I have an uncle at New 
York, one of the aristocrats of the Exchange. AVhen I was 
fourteen, he wrote to my father to send me over, as he 
meant to make me his heir. My father was a thorough 
merchant. I was packed up and sent across. In New 
York, I soon became an accomplished scapegrace, w^as up 
to every species of folly, and kept race-horses at an age 
when German boys (^at bread and butter, and play with 
tops in the streets. I had my favourite danseuses and 
cantatrices, and so bullied my servants, both white and 
black, that my uncle had enough to do to bribe them into 
taking it quietly. My friends had torn me from my home 
without consulting my feelings, and I did not care a straw 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



71 



for theirs. In short, I was the most renowned of the young 
scamps who pique themselves upon their devilry on the 
other side the water. It was on one of my bii'thdays, that, 
returning home from a certain petit soiqjer, the thought 
suddenly struck me that this career must come to an end, 
or it would end me. So I went to the harbour instead of 
to my uncle's house, and having, on my way, bought a 
coarse sailor's dress and put it on, I hired myself to an 
English captain. We sailed roimd Cape Horn, and when 
we reached Valparaiso, I thanked the Englishman for my 
passage, treated the crew, and jumped on shore with twenty 
doubloons in my pocket, to make my fortune by the strength 
of my arm. I soon fell in with an intelligent man, who 
took me to his hazienda, where I won my laurels as 
herdsman. I was about half a year with him, and liked 
the life. I was treated as a useful guest, and much ad- 
mired as sportsman and horseman. What did I need 
further 1 We were just going to have a great buffalo hunt, 
when suddenly two soldiers made their appearance on the 
scene, and trotted me off with them to the town, where I 
was made over to the American Consul ; and as my uncle 
had moved heaven and earth to track me, and as I found 
from a long letter he had written, that my father was really 
unhappy, I resolved to return to Europe by the next ship. 
I at once told my father that I did not mean to be a mer- 
chant, but an agriculturist. At this the firm of Fink and 
Becker went distracted ; but I stood to my point. At last 
we came to a compromise. I went for two years to a 
business-house in North Germany ; then I came here to 
learn office-work, through which discipline they hope to 
tame me. So here I am now in a cloister. But it's all 



72 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



ill vain. I humour my father by sitting here, but I shall 
only stay long enough to convince him that I am right — 
and then I take to agriculture." 

" Will you buy land in this country ?" inquired Anton. 

" Not I," returned Fink ; " I prefer riding half the day 
without coming to the end of my property." 

"Then you mean to return to America ?" 

" There or elsewhere. I am not particular as to hemi- 
sphere. Meanwhile, I live like a monk, as you see," said 
Fink, laughing, as he mixed for himself a fiery potion, and 
pushed the bottle to Anton. " Brew for yourself, my lad," 
said he ; " and let us chat away merrily, as becomes good 
fellows and reconciled foes." 

From that evening forth. Fink treated our hero with a 
friendship that he showed to none of the other clerks. He 
often took him into his room, and even went up the long 
staircase to his. Anton soon discovered that his new friend 
was a well-known character in the town — a perfect despot 
among the fashionables, and the leader of all riding and 
hunting parties given. Accordingly, he was much in so- 
ciety, and often did not come home till morning. Anton 
could not help admiring the strength and energy of this man, 
who could take his place at the desk after only two or three 
hours' sleep, without showing a trace of fatigue. Fink also 
departed from the rigid regularity of the house by some- 
times appearing after office-hours had begun, or leaving be- 
fore they ended. Of this, however, Mr. Schroter took no 
notice. 

Thus the winter passed away; and signs of spring pene- 
trated even here. The visitors no longer brought in snow- 
flakes, but left brown footmarks. The brokers began to 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



73 



speak of the yellow blossoms of the olive, and at length 
Mr. Braiin came in with a rose in his button-hole. 

A year was gone since Anton crossed the little lake with 
the fleet of swans behind him. The whole year through 
he had thought of that one day ! 



74 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTEE VIII. 



"EITEL ITZIG still occupied the same sleeping-quarters 



as on the evening of his arrival. If, according to the 
assertions of the police, every man must have some home 
or other — and, according to popular opinion, our home be 
where our bed stands — Veitel was remarkably little at his 
home. "WTienever he coidd slip away from Ehrenthal's, he 
would wander about the streets, and watch for such youths 
as were likely to buy from or sell to him. He had always 
a few dollars to rattle in his pocket. He never addressed 
the rawest of schoolboys but as a grown-up man ; he was 
a proficient in the art of bowing, could brighten up old 
brass and silver as good as new, was always ready to buy 
old black coats, and possessed the skill of giving them a 
degree of gloss which insured their selling again. 

With every bargain that he made for Ehrenthal, he com- 
bined one for himself, and soon won a reputation that ex- 
cited the envy of grey-bearded fripperers. He did not 
confine his activity to any one department either, but be- 
came a horse-dealer's agent, the ernploye of secret money- 
lenders ; nay, a money-lender himself. Then he had the 
faculty of never getting tired, was all day on his feet, 




DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



75 



would run any length for a few pence, and never resented 
a harsh word. He allowed himself no other recreation 
than that of counting over his different transactions, and 
their probable results. He lived upon next to nothing ; a 
slice or two of bread abducted from Ehrenthal's kitchen 
would serve for his supper. Only once during the first 
year of his town-life did he allow himself a glass of thin 
small-beer, and that after a very profitable bargain. 

He was always remarkably neat in his attire, consider- 
ing it essential that a man of business should bear the 
aspect of a gentleman. In short, at the end of twelve 
months, his six ducats had increased thirty-fold. 

He soon became indispensable in Mr. Ehrenthal's house- 
hold. Nothing escaped him. He never forgot a face, and 
was as familiar with the daily state of the funds as any 
broker on 'Change. He still occupied the post of errand- 
boy, blacked Bernhard's boots, and dined in the kitchen ; 
but it was plain that a stool in the office, which Ehrenthal 
kept for form's sake, would ultimately be his. This was 
the goal of his ambition — the paradise of his hopes. He 
soon saw that he only wanted three things to attain to it — 
a more grammatical knowledge of German, finer caligraphy, 
and an initiation into the mysteries of book-keeping, of 
which he as yet knew nothing. 

Meanwhile, he had become a distinguished man in his 
caravanserai, one whom even Lobel Pinkus himself treated 
with respect. Veitel owed this to his own sharp-wittedness. 
Ever since his first amval, the hollow sound of the wooden 
partition had a good deal excited him, and he had often 
vainly sought to explore the mystery. At last, one Satur- 
day evening he pretended to be ill, and remained at home, 



76 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



when his host and tlie rest of the household had gone to the 
synagogue. 

Having had the good fortune to widen a chink in the 
partition, he beheld what delighted him in the extreme. A 
large dirty room, quite full of chests, coffers, and a chaos of 
desirable articles — old clothes, beds, piles of linen, stufts, 
hangings, hardware-goods, etc. Aladdin at his first en- 
trance into the magician's cave was hardly so enraptured as 
Itzig by his discovery, which he carefully kept to himself. 
Sometimes at night he heard a stir in the mysterious room ; 
nay, once whispers reached him, some of them in the deep 
voice of Piukus himself. One evening, too, coming home 
late, he saw boxes and bundles in a little carriage before 
the next house, all modestly covered up with white linen ; 
and that very night two silent guests disappeared, and came 
back no more. From all of which Veitel concluded that his 
host was a commission-agent, who had his reasons for caiTy- 
ing on business by night rather than by day. 

It was as clear as possible ! These goods were taken 
eastwards, smuggled over the border, and spread all over 
Russia. 

Veitel used his discovery judiciously, only giving such hints 
of it to Pinkus as to insure his most respectful behaviour. 

On one eventful day Veitel returned in thoughtful mood 
to his lodgings, and sat in the public room. He was pon- 
dering how best to get hold of some scribe who would ini- 
tiate him into the mysteries of grammar and book-keeping 
for the smallest possible fee ; nay, perhaps, for a certain old 
black coat which, owing to the peculiarity of its cut, he had 
never yet been able to dispose of Happening to look up in 
the midst of his reflections, his eye fell on a stranger who 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



77 



held a pen in his hand, and conversed with a tradesman. 
It was plain that this man was no Jew. He was little and 
fat. He had a red tumed-up nose, bushy grey hair, and 
he wore an old pair of spectacles, which had great difficulty 
in keeping on the nose aforesaid. Veitel remarked that he 
had on an unusually bad coat, and took snuff. It was 
plain that this man was a writer of some kind ; so, as soon 
as he had seen him hand over a paper to the tradesman, and 
receive a small piece of money, Veitel approached, and 
began — 

" I wished, sir, to ask you if you happened to know any 
one who could give lessons in writing and book-keeping to 
a man of my acquaintance "? " 

"And this man of your acquaintance is yourself?" said 
the little man. 

" Why should I make a secret of it ?" said Veitel. " Yes, 
it is I ; but I am only a beginner, and able to give but 
little." 

" He who gives little receives little, my dear fellow ! " 
said the elderly scribe, taking a pinch of snuff. " What is 
your name, and with whom are you placed ?" 

" My name is Veitel Itzig, and I am in Hirsch Ehren- 
thal's office." 

The stranger grew attentive. " Ehrenthal," he said, " is 
a rich man, and a wise. I have had dealings with him in my 
time ; he has a very fair knowledge of law. What fee are 
you wiUing to pay, provided a master could be found ? " 

" I do not know what should be given," said Veitel. 

" Then I will tell you," said he of the spectacles. " I 
might or might not give you instructions myself ; but first 
I must know more about you. If I were to do so, in con- 



78 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



sideration of your being but poor, and a beginner, as you 
say, and also of having myself a little spare time on hand, 
I should only ask fifty dollars." 

"Fifty dollars !" cried Veitel in horror, sinking down on 
a stool, and repeating mechanically, "fifty dollars !" 

" Tf you think that too much," said he of the spectacles 
sharply, " know that I am not going to deal with a green- 
horn ; secondly, that I never gave my assistance for so little 
before ; and, thirdly, that I should never think of teasing 
myself with you if I had not a fancy to spend a few weeks 
here." 

"Fifty dollars," cried Itzig; "why, I had thought it would 
not cost more than three or four, and a waistcoat and a 
pair of boots, and" — for Veitel saw that a storm was 
coming, and that the hat on the table was much dilapidated 
— " a hat almost as good as new." 

" Go, you fool !" said the old man, " and look out for a 
parish schoolmaster." 

" Then," said Itzig, "you are not a writing-master ?" 

" No, you great donkey," muttered the stranger; then, in 
a soliloquy, "Who could have supposed that Ehrenthal 
would keep such a booby as this ! He takes me for a 
writing-master !" 

"Who are you, then ?" 

" One with whom you have nothing to do," was the curt 
reply, and the little man rose and betook himself to the loft, 
while Veitel went off to ask Pinkus, as unconcernedly as he 
could, the name and calling of the new guest. 

"Don't you know him?" said Pinkus, with an ironical 
smile ; " take care you don't know him to your cost. Ask 
him his name, he knows it better than I do." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



79 



" If you will put no confideiice in nie, I will in you," 
said Veitel, and told him the whole conversation. 

" So he would have given you instruction said Pinkus, 
shaking his head in amazement ; " fifty dollars is a large 
sum ; but many a man would give a hundred times as 
much to know what he does. Not that I care what you 
learn, or from whom." 

Veitel went to his lair in greater perplexity than ever. 
Soon came Pinkus with a slight supper for the stranger, to 
whom he manifested a remarkable degree of sociability. 

He now called him out on the balcony, and after a short 
talk in the dark, of which Veitel guessed himself the sub- 
ject, re-entered the room, saymg — 

" This gentleman wishes to spend a few weeks here iu 
private ; therefore, even if questioned, you will not mention it." 

" I don't even know who the gentleman is," said Veitel ; 
" how could I tell any one that he is living here V 

" You may trust this young man," observed Pinkus to 
the stranger, and then wished the two good-night. 

The man in spectacles sat down to his supper, every now 
and then casting such a glance at Veitel as an old raven 
might do at an unfledged chicken, who had innocently ven- 
tured within his reach. 

Meanwhile, the thought darted across Itzig's mind, that 
this mysterious person might be one of the chosen few — a. 
possessor of the infallible receipt by which a poor man could 
become rich. Veitel knew now that there was no magic in 
this, that the receipt consisted in being more cunning than 
the rest of the world, and that this cunning was not without 
its serious consequences to its possessor ; nay, it seemed to 
him as though to acquire it were to make a compact with 



80 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Satau himself. His hand trembled, his pale face glowed, 
but his desire for more certain knowledge on the subject 
prevailed ; and he told the stranger, that having heard that 
there was an art of always buying and selling to the best 
advantage, and so of making a fortune, he wished to ask 
whether it wa^ that art that he (the stranger) could impart 
if he chose." 

The old man pushed his plate away, and looked at him 
with amazement. " Either," said he, " you are a great dolt, 
or the best actor I have ever seen." 

" No ; I am only a dolt, but I wish to become clever," 
was the reply. 

" A singular fellow," said the other, adjusting his spec- 
tacles so as to see him better. After a long examination, 
he went on, " AVhat you, my lad, call an art, is only a 
knowledge of law, and the wisdom to turn it to one's own 
profit. He who is up to this cannot fail to be a great man, 
for he will never be hanged." At which he laughed in a 
way that made a painful impression even upon Itzig. 

" This art," he went on, " is not easily acquired, my boy. 
It takes much practice, a good head, prompt decision, and, 
above all, what the knowing call ' character.' " At which he 
laughed again. 

Veitel felt that a crisis in his life had come. He fum- 
bled for his worn-out pocket-book, and held it for a moment 
in his trembling hand. During that moment, all manner 
of conflicting thoughts flashed like lightning through his 
mind. He thought of his worthy mother's tearful fare- 
well, and how she had said, " Veitel, this is a wicked world, 
gain thy bread honestly." He saw his old father on his 
deathbed, with his white head drooping over his emaciated 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



81 



frame. He thought, too, of his fifty dollars gathered to- 
gether so laboriously — of the insults he had had to bear for 
their sake — the threatened blows. At that thought hi; 
threw his pocket-book on the table, and cried, " Here is the 
money ! " but he knew, at the same time, that he was com- 
mitting a sin, and an invisible weight settled on his heart. 

A few hours later, the lamp had burned low, but still 
Veitel sat with mouth open, eyes fixed, and face flushed, 
listening to the old man, who was speaking about what most 
people would vote a tiresome subject — promissory-notes. 

Later still, the light was gone out ; and the stranger, hav- 
ing emptied his bottle of brandy, was asleep on his straw 
bed, but still Veitel sat and wrote in fancy on the dark 
walls, fraudulent bonds and receipts, while the sweat ran 
down from his brow ; then he opened the balcony door, and 
leaning on the railing, saw the water rush by like a mighty 
stream of ink. Again he traced bonds on the shadows 
of the opposite walls, and wrote receipts on the surface of 
the stream. The shadows fled — the water ran away ; but 
his soul had contracted, in that dark night, a debt to 
be one day required with compound interest. 

From that night Veitel hurried home every evening, and 
the lessons went on regularly. 

We will now briefly relate what he gTadually discovered 
as to the histoiy of his teacher. 

Herr Hippus had seen better days. He had once been 
a leading attorney, and had then taken to the Bar, where 
he soon gained a liigh reputation for his skill in making a 
doubtful cause appear a good one. At first he had no inten- 
tion of gaining a fortune by confounding right and wrong. 
On the contrary, he had a painful sense of insecurity when 

F 



82 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



retained for a client whose cause seemed to him unjust. He 
differed but little, indeed, from the best of his colleagues : 
perhaps he had somewhat fewer scruples ; and, certainly, he 
was too fond of good red wine. He had a caustic wit, made 
an admirable boon companion, and, having a subtle intellect, 
was fond of paradoxes and skilful hair-splitting. Thanks 
to the red wine, he fell into the habit of spending much, 
and so into the necessity of making much also. Vanity and 
the love of excitement led him to devote the whole energy of 
his brilliant intellect to winning bad cases, and thus that 
frequent curse of barristers overtook him ; all who had 
bad cases applied to him. For a long time this annoyed 
him ; but gradually, veiy gradually, he became demoralized 
by the constant contact with falsehood and wrong. His 
wants went on increasing, temptations multiplied, and con- 
science weakened. But though long hollow within, he 
continued outwardly prosperous ; and many proj^hesied that 
he, with his immense practice, would die one of the richest 
men in the city, when, cunning lawyer as he was, he had 
the misfortune to provoke inquiry by appearing in a des- 
perate case. The result was, that he was at once disgraced, 
and vanished like a falling star from the circle of his pro- 
fessional brethren. He soon lost the last remains of respec- 
tability. In reality, he had amassed very little, and his 
love of drink went on increasing. He sunk to a mere fre- 
quenter of brandy-shops, a promoter of unfair litigation, 
and an adviser of rogues and swindlers. Owing to some of 
these practices it was, that he now found it convenient, 
under the pretence of a long journey, to become for a time 
invisible. Pinkus was an old ally ; and hence the oppor- 
tunity for Veitel's lessons. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



83 



Tliese lessons soon became an absolute necessity to the 
old man's heart. Ay, to his heart, for, bad as he was, its 
warmth was not yet utterly extinguished. 

It grew a melancholy pleasure to him to open out his 
mental resources to the youth, whose attention flattered him ; 
and gradually he began to attach himself to him. He 
would put by a portion of his supper, and even of his brandy 
for him, and enjoy seeing him consume it. Once when 
Veitel had caught a feverish cold, and lay shivering under 
his thin coverlet, the old man spread his own blankets over 
him, and felt a glow of pleasure on seeing his grateful 
smile. 

Veitel repaid these sparks of friendly feeling with a de- 
gree of reverence, greater than ever pupil felt before. He 
did many small kindnesses on his side, and made Hippus 
the confidant of all his own transactions. It is true that 
this intimacy had its thorns. The old man could not re- 
frain from practising his sharp wit on Itzig, who called him 
too by many an irreverent name when he had stupified 
himself with brandy ; but, on the whole, they got on capi- 
tally, and were essential to each other. 

During the months that the old man spent in this retreat, 
Veitel learnt much besides the special science already al- 
luded to ; he improved in speaking and writing German, 
and gained a great amount of general information. This 
change did not escape Mr. Ehrenthal, who mentioned it in 
his family circle much as a farmer would the promising 
points of a young bullock ; and, at the end of the quarter, 
announced of his own accord to Veitel, that the shoe- 
blacking and kitchen-dinner were to cease, and that he was 
prepared to give him a place in his office, and a small salary 



84 



r>£BIT AND CREDIT. 



besides. Veitel received the long-desired intelligence with 
great self-command, and returned his humble thanks, adding, 
" I have still one very, very great favour to ask. May I 
have the honour of dining once a week at Mr. Ehrenthal's 
table, that I may see how people conduct themselves in good 
society ? If you will do me this kindness, you may deduct 
it from my salary." 

Ehrenthal shook his head, and said that he must refer 
the question to ]iis wife. The result of which consultation 
was, that on the following Sabbath Veitel was invited to 
eat a roast goose with the family. 



DEBIT AND CRP:DTT. 



85 



CHAPTER IX. 



ANE warm summer evening, office hom's being over, Fink 
said to Anton, " Will you accompany me to-day ? I am 
going to try a boat that I liave just had built." Anton was 
ready at once ; so they jumped into a carriage, and drove 
to the river. Fink ix)inted out a round boat tliat floated 
on the water like a pumpkin, and said in a melancholy 
tone, " There it is — a perfect horror, I declare ! I cut 
out the model for the builder myself too; I gave him all 
manner of directions, and this is the sea-gull's egg he has 
produced." 

" It is very small," replied Anton, with an umx)mforta])le 
foreboding. 

"I'll tell you what it is," cried Fink to the builder, 
who now came forward, respectfully touching his hat ; 
" our deaths will be at your door, for we shall inevitably 
be drowned in that thing, and it will be owing to your want 
of sense," 

" Sir," replied the man, " I have made it exactly accord- 
ing to your directions." 

"Youliave; have you?" continued Fink. "Well then, 
as a punishment, you shall go with us ; you must see that 
it is but fair that we should be drowned together." 



86 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" No, sir, that I will not do, with so much wind as 
this," returned the man decidedly. 

" Then stay ashore and make sawdust pap for your chil- 
dren. Give me the mast and sails." He fitted in the little 
mast, hoisted and examined the sails, then took them down 
again, and laid them at the bottom of the boat, threv/ in a few 
iron bars as ballast, told Anton where to sit, and seizing 
the two oars, struck out from shore. The pumpkin danced 
gaily on the water, to the great delight of the builder and 
his friends, who stood watching it. 

" I wanted to show these lazy fellows that it is possible 
to row a boat like this against the stream," said Fink, re- 
placing the mast, setting the sail, and giving the proper 
directions to his pupil. The wind came in pufis, sometimes 
Miling the little sail, and bending the boat to the water's 
edge, sometimes lulling altogether. 

" It is a wretched aftair," cried Fink impatiently; " we are 
merely drifting now, and we shall capsize next." 

" If that's the case," said Anton, with feigned cheerful- 
ness, " I propose that we turn back." 

" It doesn't matter," replied Fink coolly ; " one way or 
other, we'll get to land — you can swim 

Like lead. If we do capsize I shall sink at once, and 
you will have some trouble to get me up again." 

" If we find ourselves in the water, mind you do not 
catch hold of me, which would be the surest way of drowning 
both. Wait quietly till I draw you out ; and, by the way, 
you may as well be pulling off your coat and boots — one is 
more comfortable in the water en neglige^ Anton did so 
at once. 

" That's right," said Fink. " To say the truth, this is 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



87 



wretched sport. Xo waves, no wind, and now no water. 
Here we are, aground again ! Push off, will you 1 Hey, 
shipmate ! what would you say if this dirty shore were 
suddenly to sink, and we found ourselves out on a respect- 
able sea ? water as far as the horizon, waves as high as that 
tree yonder, and a good hearty wind that blew your ears oft* 
and flattened your nose on your face ! " 

" I can't say that I should like it at all," replied Anton, 
nervously. 

"And yet," said Fink, "there are few plights so bad 
but they might be still worse. Just think ; in that case 
it would be some comfort to have even these good-for- 
nothing planks between us and the water ; but what if we 
ourselves lay on the stream? no boat, no shore — moimtain 
waves all round. 

" I at least should be lost !" cried Anton, with genuine 
horror. 

" I have a friend, a good friend, to whom I trust im- 
plicitly in any crisis, to whom this once happened. He 
sauntered down to the shore on a glorious evening, had a 
fancy to bathe, stripped, plmiged, and struck out gaily. 
The waves lifted him up and drew him down ; the water 
was warm, the sunset dyed the sea with ten thousand ex- 
quisite hues, and the golden sky glowed above him. The 
man shouted with ecstasy." 

"You were that man ?" inquired Anton. 

" True. I went on swimming for about an hour, when 
the dull look of the sky reminded me that it was time 
to return. So I made for land; and what think you, Master 
Wohlfart, that I saw ?" 

" A ship ?" said Anton • " a fish ?" 



88 



DEBIT AND CREDIT, 



" No. I saw nothing — the land had vanished. I looked 
on all sides — I rose as high as I could out of the water — 
there was nothing to be seen but sea and sky. The cur- 
rent that set in from the land had treacherously carried me 
out. I was in mid-ocean, somewhere between England 
and America, that I knew ; but this geographical fact was 
by no means soothing to one in my circumstances. The 
sky gTew dark, the hollows filled with black uncanny 
shadows, the waves got higher, and a cold wind blew round 
my head ; nothing was to be seen but the dusky red of the 
sky and the rolling waters." 

" Horrible ! " cried Anton. 

" It was a moment when no priest in the world could 
have prevented a poor human being from wishing himself 
a pike, or some such creature. I knew by the sky where 
the land lay. Now came the question, which was stronger 
— the current or my arm 1 I began a deadly struggle with 
the treacherous ocean-deities. I should not have done much 
by such swimndng as they teach in schools. I rolled like 
a porpoise, and struck out desperately, for about two hours ; 
then the labour got hard indeed. It was the fiercest battle 
that I ever fought. The sky grew dark, the emerald waves 
pitchy black, only they were crested with foam that blew 
in my face. At times a single star peeped from the clouds 
— that was my only comfort. So I swam on and on, and 
still there was no land to be seen. I was tired out, and 
the hideous darkness sometimes made me think of giving 
up the straggle. The clouds gathered darker, the stars 
disappeared ; I began to doubt whether I was taking the 
right direction, and I was making very little way. I knew 
the game was nearly up — my chest heaved — countless 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



sparks rose before my eyes. Just then, my boy, when I 
had glided half-unconscious down the slope of a wave, I 
felt somethmg under my feet that was no longer water." 
"It was land !" cried Anton. 

" Yes," said Fink ; " it was good firm sand. I found 
myself on shore about a mile to leeward of my clothes, 
and fell down like a dead seal." Then stopping, and with 
a steady look at Anton — "Now, mate, get ready!" cried 
he ; " take your legs from imder the bench, I am going 
to tack and make for shore. Now for it ! " 

At that moment came a violent gust of wind ; the mast 
creaked, the boat heeled over, and could not right herself. 
According to promise, Anton went to the bottom without 
any more ado. Quick as lightning Fink dived after him, 
brought him up, and, with a violent effort, reached a spot 
whence they could wade ashore. " Deuce take it," gasped 
Fink ; "take hold of my arm, can't you ?" 

But Anton, who had swallowed a quantity of water, was 
hardly conscious, and only waved Fink off. 

" I do believe he'll be down again," cried the latter impa- 
tientty, catching hold of him, and making for the shore. 

A crowd had by this time assembled round the spot 
where Fink was holding his companion in his arms and ex- 
horting him to recover hunself At length Anton opened 
his eyes. 

"Why, Wohlfart," said Fink anxiously, "how goes it, my 
lad ? You have taken the matter too much to heart. — 
Poncho y Ponche !" cried he to the bystanders; "a cloak 
and a glass of rum — that will soon bring him round." 

A cloak was willingly lent, and our hero carried to the 
builder's house. 



90 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Here is an end of boat, sails, oars, and all," said Fink 
reproachfully, " and of our coats into the bargain. Did not 
I tell you that it was a good-for-nothing tub 

For an hour, at least. Fink tended his victim with the 
greatest tenderness; but it was late before Anton was suffi- 
ciently recovered to walk home. 

The next day was Sundaj'-, and the principal's birthday 
besides. On this important occasion, the gentlemen of the 
office spent some hours after dinner with the family circle, 
and coffee and cigars were served. As they were sitting 
down to table, the good-natured cousin said to Fink, " The 
whole town is full of the fearful risk which you and Mi'. 
Wohlfart ran yesterday." 

" Not worth mentioning, my dear lady ! " replied Fink 
carelessly ; "I only wanted to see how Master Wohlfart 
would behave in drowning. I threw him into the water, 
and he was within a hair's-breadth of remaining at the 
bottom, considering it indiscreet to give me the trouble of 
saving him. Only a German is capable of such self-sacri- 
ficing politeness." 

" But," cried the cousin, " this is a sheer tempting of 
Providence. It is dreadful to think of it ! " 

"It is dreadful to think of the impurity of your river. 
The water-sprites that inhabit it must be a dirty set. But 
Wohlfart did not mind their mud. He fell into their arms 
with enthusiasm. He tlirew both legs over the boat's edge 
before there was any occasion." 

" You told me to do so ! " cried Anton, in self-exculpa- 
tion. 

" Poor Mr. Wohlfart ! " exclaimed the astonished cousin. 
" But your coats ! This morning I met a policeman with the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



91 



wet bundle in his arms, and it was he who told me of your 
accident." 

" The coats were fished up at an early hour," said Fink, 
" but Karl doubts whether they will ever dry. Meanwhile, 
Wohlfart's boots are on a voyage of discoveiy towards the 
ocean." 

Anton blushed with anger at his friend's jests, and looked 
stealthily towards the upper end of the table. The merchant 
glanced darkly at the cheerfid Fink. Sabine was jjale and 
downcast — the cousin alone was fluent in her pity for the 
coats. 

The dinner was more solemn than usual. After the plates 
were removed, Mr. Liebold rose to fulfil the arduous duty 
imposed upon him by his position — to propose the health 
of their principal. He took all possible pains not to retract 
or qualify his eulogiums and good wishes ; but even this 
toast fell fiat — a certain painful excitement seemed to 
prevail at the head of the table. 

After dinner, they all stood round in groups, drinking their 
coffee ; and bold spii-its — Mr. Fix, for instance, ventured upon 
a cigar as well. Meanwhile, Anton roamed through the suite 
of rooms, looking at the paintings on the walls, turning over 
albums, and fighting oft" ennui as well as he could. In this 
way he reached the end room, and stopped there in amaze- 
ment. Sabine stood before him, tears falling from her 
eyes. She was sobbing silently, her slender form shaken 
by the conflict within ; but yet she was trying to re- 
press her grief with an energy that only made it the more 
touching. 

As Anton, filled with deepest sympathy, turned to go, she 
looked round, composed herself, passed her handkerchief 



92 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



over her eyes, and said kindly, " Take care, Mr. Wohlfart. 
tliat the foolliardiness of your friend leads you into no fresh 
danger. I\Iy brother would be very sorry that your inter- 
course with him should prove an injury to you." 

" ]\Iiss Sabine," replied Anton, looking reverentially at 
her, " Fink is as noble as he is reckless. He saved me at 
the peril of his own life." 

"0 yes!" cried Sabine, with an expression Anton did 
not quite understand ; " he loves to play with whatever is 
sacred to others." 

At that moment Mr. Jordan came to request her to give 
them some music. She went at once. 

Anton was excited to the utmost. Sabine Schroter stood 
so high in the estimation of the gentlemen of the counting- 
house, that they paid her the compliment of rarely naming 
her. Most of the younger clerks had been desperately in love 
with her ; and though the flames had burnt down for want 
of fuel, yet the embers still glowed in the innermost recesses 
of their hearts. All alike would have fought for her against 
any enemy in the world. But they looked upon her as a 
marble saint, a being l^eyond the influence of human weak- 
nesses. 

Anton, however, now doubted whether she were really 
this. To him, too, the young lady of the house had been 
like the moon, only visible afar off", and on one side. Daily 
he sat opposite her, saw the delicate sadness of her face — 
the deep glance of her beautiful eyes — heard her speak the 
same commonplace sentences, and knew no more of her. All 
lit once an accident made him her confidant. He felt sure, 
by many a token, that this grief was connected with Fink ; 
and although he had for him the devoted admiration that 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



03 



an unsophisticated youth readily bestows upon a daring and 
experienced comrade, yet, in this case, he found himself en- 
listed on the lady's side against his friend ; he resolved t(^ 
watch him narrowly, and be to her a brotherly protector, a 
faithful confidant ; all, in short, that was sympathizing and 
helpful. 

A few hours later, Sabine sat in the window with folded 
hands. Her brother had laid aside his newspaper, and was 
watching her anxiously. At last he rose, stept silently up 
to her, and laid his hand on her head. She clasped him in 
her arms. There they stood, leaning against each other, two 
friends who had so shared their lives, that each knew the 
other's thoughts without a spoken word. 

Tenderly stroking his sister s hair, the merchant began — 
" You know what large dealings we have with Fink's 
father?" 

" I know that you are not satisfied with the son." 

" I could not help taking him into our house, but I re- 
gret the hour I did so." 

"Do not be hard upon him," pleaded the sister, kissing 
her brother's hand ; " think how much there is that is noble 
in his character." 

" I am not unjust towards him. But it is yet to be proved 
wliiether he will be a blessing or a curse to his fellow-men. 
He may become a mere paltry aristocrat, who wastes his 
energies in refined self-indulgence ; or a covetous, unscrupul- 
ous money-maker, like his uncle in America." 

"He is not heartless !" murmured Sabine ; " his friendship 
for Wohlfart shows that." 

" He does but play with him : throws him into the water 
and picks him out again." 



94 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Nay," cried Sabine ; " he esteems his good sense and 
high principles, and feels that he has a better nature than 
his own." 

" Do not deceive yourself and me," replied the merchant ; 
" I know the fascination that this strange man has long had 
for you. I have said nothing, for I could trust you. But 
now that I see that he makes you really unhappy, I cannot 
but wish for his absence. He shall leave our house without 
delay." 

" Oh no, no ! " cried Sabine, wringing her hands. " No, 
Traugott, that shall not, must not be ! If there be any 
way of rescuing him from the evil influences of his past life, 
it is the being with you. To see, to take part in the regular 
activity, the high honour of your mercantile career, is salva- 
tion to him." " Brother," continued she, taking his hand, 
" I have no secrets from you — you have found out my fool- 
ish weakness ; but I promise you, that henceforth it shall 
be no more to me than the recollection of some tale that I 
have read. Never by look or word will I betray it ; only do 
not, oh, do not be angry with him ! do not send him away ; 
and that on my account." 

" But how can I tell whether his remaining here may not 
subject you to a painful conflict T' inquired the merchant. 
" Our position, as regards him, is difficult enough without 
this. He ranks as a brilliant match in every sense of the 
word. His father has intrusted him to me. If an at- 
tachment were to spring up between you, it would be 
treachery to his father to withhold it from him. It 
might seem to him as if we had a wish to secure the 
young heir ; and he, accustomed as he is to easy conquests, 
might perhaps laugh at what he would call your weakness 



DEBIT AND CRP^DIT. 



95 



and my long-lieadedness. The very thought calls up all 
my pride." 

"Brother !" cried Sabine with burning cheeks; "do not 
forget that I am your sister. I am a merchant's daughter, 
and he would never belong entirely to our class. I am as 
proud as you, and have always had the conviction, that not 
all the love in the world could ever fill the gulf between us. 
— Trust me," continued she with tears ; " you shall see no 
more sad looks. But be kinder to him — think what his fate 
has been — tossed about among strangers ; think how he has 
grown up without affection, without a home ; spoiled in 
many ways, but still with a high sense of honour, an ab- 
horrence of all that is little. Trust me, and be kinder to 
him." 

" He shall stay," said the merchant ; " but besides, my 
darling, there is another whom we should seek to guard 
from his influence." 

" Wohlfart !" cried Sabine cheerfully ; " oh, I will answer 
for him !" 

" You undertake a good deal. So he, too, is a fa- 
vourite f ' 

" He is tender-hearted and honourable, and devoted to 
you ; and he has plenty of spirit too. Trust him, he will 
be a match for Fink. I happened to meet him at the 
time that Fink had insulted him, and I have given him 
a place in my heart ever since." 

"How does this heart find room for everything V cried 
the merchant playfully. " Above and beyond all, the great 
store-room, the oaken presses of our grandmother, and the 
piles of white linen ; then, in a side chamber apart, your 
strict brother, then " 



9G 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Then all the others in the ante-chamber," broke in 
Sabine. 

Meanwhile Fink entered Anton's room, humming a tune, 
little suspecting the storm in the front part of the house, 
and, truth to tell, little caring what they thought about him 
there. " I have fallen into disgrace on your account, my 
son ! " cried he merrily. " His majesty has treated me all 
the day long with killing indifference, and the black-haired 
has not deigned me a single glance ; — good sort of people, 
but desperately matter of fact ! That Sabine has at bottom 
plenty of life and spirit ; but she plagues herself about the 
merest trifles. She would raise a question as to whether it 
was a fly's duty to scratch its head with the right leg or the 
left. Why, you are on the way to be looked upon as the 
' Mignon ' of the counting-house, and I as your evil genius. 
Never mind ! to-morrow we will go together to the swim- 
ming school." 

And so it was. From that day forth Fink delighted to 
initiate his young friend into all his own pursuits. He 
taught him to swim, to ride, to leap, to shoot at a mark, 
and even threatened to get him an invitation to a hunting- 
party. Against this Anton vehemently protested. 

Anton on his side rewarded him by the greatest devo- 
tion. They were happy evenings for both, when, sitting 
under the shadow of the condor's wings, they chatted away, 
jind laughed so loud, that through the open window the 
sound reached old Pluto the watch-dog, Avho, feeling him- 
self the guardian of the establishment, and considered by 
all as a distinguished member of it, woke up to bay out 
liis hearty sympathy with their enjoyment. Ay, they were 
• happy hours ; for their intimacy ripened for the first time in 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



97 



the life of either into sincere friendship. And yet Anton 
never ]eft oft" watching Fink's bearing to Sabine ; although 
he did not name her to him, he was always expecting to 
hear of some important event : a betrothal, or a quarrel 
between Fink and the merchant, or something extraor- 
dinary. But nothing of the kind occurred ; the solemn 
daily meals went on, and Sabine's behaviour to both friends 
was the same as before. 

Another year had passed away, the second since our ap- 
I)rentice's arrival, and again the roses blossomed. One evening 
Anton bought a large nosegay of them,- and knocked with 
them at the door of Jordan, who was a great lover of 
flowers. He was surprised to find all the clerks assembled, 
as they had been on the day of his arrival, and he saw at 
a glance that they were embarrassed by his appearance. 
Jordan hurried to meet him, and, with a slight degree of 
confusion, requested that he would leave them for about an 
hour, as they were discussing a subject into which he, as an 
apprentice, could not enter. It was the first time that these 
kind-hearted men had ever allowed him to feel any diff'erence 
between his position and theirs, and therefore his banishment 
slightly depressed him. He carried back his nosegay, placed 
it with a resigned air upon his own table, and took up a book. 

Meanwhile a solemn deliberation was going on in Jor- 
dan's room. He rose, struck the table with a ruler, and 
went on to state, that a colleague having, as they all knew, 
left the business, a vacancy had occurred, which Mr. Schroter 
himself wished should be filled by Wohlfart ; but as his 
case would thus be made exceptional — he having been an 
apprentice only two years instead of four — the principal 
kindly referred the decision to the body of the clerks. 

G 



98 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



An imposing silence succeeded to these words, which 
was at length interrupted by Mr. Pix proposing punch, and 
that they should order in the kettle for the tea-drinkers. 

The other gentlemen preserved a dignified silence, looked 
with solemnity at the preparations going forward, and 
each felt his responsibility and his importance as a man 
and a clerk. 

Tlie next question was, " How shall we vote 

It was decided that the youngest should begin. 

Specht was the youngest. " First of all I have to re- 
mark, that Herr von Fink is not present," said he, looking 
around in some excitement. 

A general murmur arose, " He does not belong to us — 
he is a volunteer." 

" In that case," continued Specht, somewhat taken dowTi 
by this universal opposition, " I am of opinion that Anton 
ought, according to custom, to remain an apprentice for 
four years ; but as he is a good fellow, and likely to prove 
useful, I am also of opinion that an exception should be 
made in his favour ; while I propose that, in order to remind 
him of his former position, he be appointed to make tea for 
us during a year, and to mend a hundred pens for each of 
his colleagues." 

" Stuff and nonsense !" muttered Pix; " you have always 
such overstrained notions." 

"What do you mean by overstrained notions?" inquired 
Specht angrily. 

" I must call you to order," said ]Mr. Jordan. 

The rest of the colleagues proceeded to give in their ad- 
herence to the plan. Baumann did so with enthusiasm. 
At last it came to the turn of Pix. " Gentlemen," said he, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



99 



what is the use of much talking ? His knowledge of 
business is fair, considering that he is but a young fellow ; 
his manner is pleasant — the servants respect him. According 
to my notions, he is too tender and considerate — but it is 
not given to all to manage others — he is a poor hand at 
cards, and can make little or nothing of punch — that's 
about what he is. But as these last peculiarities have no- 
thing to do with the present proposal, I see no reason why 
he should not, from the present date, become our col- 
league." 

Then came Purzel and Liebold, who each gave his vote 
in his own characteristic way, and the affair was settled. 
Baumann was about to rush off and call Anton, when Specht 
insisted upon the solemnity of a deputation, and Liebold 
and Fix were appointed to escort the astonished youth, who 
could not conceive what it all meant, till Jordan, advancing 
to meet him, said with the utmost cordiality, " Dear AVohl- 
fart, you have now worked with us two years; you have 
taken pains to learn the business, and have won the friend- 
ship of us all. It is the will of the principal, and our 
united wish, that the term of your apprenticeship should 
be abridged, and that you should to-morrow enter upon your 
duties as a clerk. We congratulate you sincerely, and hope 
that, as our colleague, you will show us the same friendly 
regard that you have hitherto shown." So said worthy 
Mr. Jordan, and held out his hand. 

Anton stood for a moment as if stupified ; and then there 
followed an amount of hand-shaking and congratulation 
never witnessed before in that apartment. Next came 
toasts, speeches, and, after an evening of most hearty enjoy- 
ment, the colleagues separated at a late hour. 



100 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Anton could not go to bed, however, without imparting 
his good fortune to his friend Fink. So he went to meet 
him on his return home, and told him the important event 
in the bright moonlight. Fink made a grand flourish in 
the air with his riding-whip, and said, " Bravo ! bravo ! 
I should not have given our despot credit for such contempt 
of precedent. You will be launched a year the sooner into 
Ufe !" 

The following day, the principal called the new clerk 
into his own sanctuary, and received his thanks with a 
smile. 

Last of all, at dinner, the ladies congratulated the new 
official. Sabine even came down the whole length of the 
table to where Anton stood, and greeted him in the kindest 
terms. A bottle of wine was placed beside each cover ; 
while the merchant, raising his glass, and bowing to our 
happy hero, said with earnest kindness, " Dear Wohlfart, 
we drink to the memory of your excellent father ! " 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



101 



CHAPTER X. 

ANE winter morning, Anton was reading diligently the 
" Last of the Mohicans," while the first snow-flakes 
were dancing down outside his window, when Fink came 
in hurriedly, saying, " Anton, let me have a look at your 
wardrobe He opened the different drawers, examined 
their contents, and shaking his head, said, " I will send 
my tailor to measure you for a new suit." 

" I have no money," replied Anton, laughing. 

" Nonsense ! " cried Fink ; "the tailor will give you as 
much credit as you like." 

" I do not, however, choose to buy on credit," said An- 
ton, settling himself upon the sofa to argue the point with 
his friend. 

" You must make an exception in this case. It is high 
time that you should see more of society, and I am going to 
introduce you." 

Anton started up, blushed, and exclaimed, " It won't do. 
Fink ; I am quite a stranger, and have no position to give 
me confidence ! " 

" That's the very reason why you must go into society,"' 
replied Fink severely. " You must get rid of this miserable 



102 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



timidity as soon as possible. Can you waltz 1 Have you 
any remote conception of the figures of a quadrille ? " 

" A few years ago, I had some dancing-lessons in Ostrau." 

" Very well ; now you shall have some more. Frau 
von Baldereck informed me yesterday, that a few families 
pui-posed instituting a private assembly, where their half- 
grown chickens might learn to spread their wings, secure 
from birds of prey. It is to be held in her house, as 
she has a chicken of her own to bring up for the market. 
It's the very thing for you, and I will introduce you." 

" Fink," said our hero, " this is another of your mad 
adventures. Frau von Baldereck belongs to the aristo- 
cratic set ; you would only occasion me the mortification of 
being rejected ; or worse, treated with hauteiu-." 

" Is he not enough to put a saint out of patience ? " 
cried Fink in dudgeon; "you and your class have more 
reason to hold your heads high than half of those there 
assembled. And yet you are the very people, with your 
timidity and subserviency, to keep up their foolish preten- 
sions ! How can you suppose yourself their inferior ? I 
should never have expected to have found such meanness 
in you." 

"You mistake me," replied Anton, angry in his turn. 
" I am not wanting in self-respect ; but it would be foolish 
and unbecoming to intrude into a circle where I am not 
wished for, and where a man would be desjHsed for being 
in a counting-house." 

" Nonsense ! you are wished for. There is a paucity of 
gentlemen. The lady of the house (I am a favourite — no 
honour, mind you) has asked me to introduce three young 
men of my acquaintance ; and so nothing can be more simple. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



103 



You pay for your lessons like another ; and whether you 
whirl round a countess or a young hourgeoise, what mat- 
ters it ? " 

" It won't do," replied Anton, shaking his head ; " I have 
an inward conviction that it is unbecoming, and wish to be 
guided by this." 

" Well, then," said Fink impatiently, " I have one other 
proposal to make. You shall this very day call with me 
upon Frau von Baldereck. I will introduce you as Anton 
Wohlfart, one of the clerks in the firm of T. 0. Schroter. 
Not a word shall be said of these dancing-lessons, and you 
shall see that she herself will invite you. If she does not, 
or if she shows the very least hauteur, you can stay away. 
This you cannot object to." 

Anton demurred. The case seemed by no means so clear 
as Fink made it out, but he was no longer able to weigh it 
dispassionately. For years past he had yearned for the free, 
dignified, refined life of the upper circles. Whenever he 
heard music ; whenever he read of the doings of the aristo- 
cracy, the turreted castle and the noble maiden rose before 
him in the golden light of poetry. He consented to the 
proposal of his experienced friend. 

An hour later came the tailor ; and Fink himself deter- 
mined the cut of the new suit with a technical precision 
which impressed the tailor no less than it did Anton. 

That afternoon, as the November sun melted away the 
snow. Fink, with a large bundle of papers in his hand, 
loitered down the most frequented streets, evidently on the 
look-out for some one or other. At last he crossed over, 
and encountered, apparently to his surprise, two elegantly- 
dressed gentlemen, who were sauntering on the opposite side. 



104 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" my, Fink ! " 

" Oh, how do you do ? " 

" Wliere are you wandering to in this absent mood ? " 
inquired young Von Tonnchen. 

"I am looking," Fink replied, in a melancholy voice, 
" for two good fellows who will come and drink a bottle 
of wine with me this gloomy afternoon, and assist me in 
a little matter of business beforehand." 

" What ! a duel 1 " inquired Herr von Zernitz. 

" No, fair sir," replied Fink ; " you know that I have 
forsworn all evil ways, and am become a hard-working man 
of business, a worthy son of the firm of Fink and Becker. 
I only want two witnesses to a legal document, which must 
be executed at once. Will you accompany me for a quarter 
of an hour to the notary — for the rest of the evening to 
Feroni's 

The two gentlemen were only too happy. Fink took 
them to a well-known lawyer, to whom he delivered a long 
and important-looking document, written in English, and 
setting forth that Fritz von Fink was the lawful proprietor 
of the territory of Fowliug-floor, in the State of New York. 
This, he explained to the lawyer, he now wished to make 
over to Anton Wohlfort, at present clerk in the house of 
T. 0. Scliroter, imploring the man of business, at the same 
time, to keep the matter secret, which he duly promised : 
and the two witnesses attested the deed. As they left. Fink 
earnestly besought them never to reveal the circumstance 
to Mr. Wohlfart. They both gave him their word of 
honour, evincing, however, some degree of curiosity as to 
the whole transaction. 

" I cannot explain it to you," said Fink ; " there being 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



105 



about it a political myster}^, that is not quite clear even to 
myself." 

" Is the estate large that you have just ceded ? " inquired 
Von Tonnchen. 

" An estate ! " said Fink, looking up to the sky ; " it is 
no estate. It is a district, mountain and vale, wood and 
water, — but a small part, certainly, of America. But then, 
what is large ? On the other side of the Atlantic we 
measure things by a very difierent scale to that used 
in this corner of Germany. At all events, I shall never 
again call the property mine." 

" But who is this Wohlfart ? " asked the lieutenant. 

" You shall make his acquaintance," answered Fink. 
He is a handsome youth from the heart of the province, 
over whom a remarkable destiny hovers ; of which, how- 
ever, he knows, and is to know, nothing. But enough of 
business. I have a plan for you this winter. You are 
old boys, it is true ; but you must take dancing-lessons." 

And so saying, he led the way into Feroni's, where the 
three were soon deep in a bottle of port wine. 

Frau von Baldereck was one of the main supports of 
the very best society ; consisting, as it did, of the families 
of the county nobility, the officers, and a few of the highest 
officials. It was difficult to say what had given this lady 
her social importance ; for she was neither very well con- 
nected, nor very rich, nor very elegant, nor very intellectual. 
Perhaps it was this absence of all marked superiority which 
accounted for it. She had a very large acquaintance, was 
rigidly conventional, valued every one according to a 
social standard ; and, therefore, her estimate was always 
attended to. She had a young daughter, who promised to 



106 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



be very like her ; and she inhabited a suite of large rooms 
on the first floor, where, for many years, dramatic repre- 
sentations, tableaux vivants, rehearsals, etc., had been con- 
stantly held. 

This influential lady was deep in consultation with her 
mantua-maker as to how the new dress of her daughter could 
be best made, so as to display her faultless bust, "^-ithout ex- 
citing comment at the dancing-lesson, when her favourite. 
Fink, was announced. Dismissing awhile the weighty con- 
sideration, she hurried down to give him a most gracious 
reception. 

After a few introductory remarks upon the last evening 
party at which they had met. Fink began — 

" I have obeyed your orders, lady patroness, and shall 
bring you three gentlemen." 

" And who are they 1 " 

" First, Lieutenant von Zernitz." 

" A great acquisition," was the reply, for the lieutenant 
was considered an accomjDlished ofiicer. He made neat 
verses, was great in the arrangement of tahleaux vivants, 
and was said to have written a tale in some annual or 
other. " Herr von Zernitz is a delightful companion." 

" Yes," said Fink, " but he cannot bear port wine. The 
second is young Von Tonnchen." 

" An old family," observed the mistress of the house ; 
" but is he not a little — just a little — wild 1 " added she 
modestly. 

" By no means," said Fink ; " though sometimes, perhaps, 
he makes other people so." 

" And the third 1 " inquired the lady. 
"The third is a Mr. Wolilfart." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



107 



" Wohlfart ! " returned slie, somewhat perplexed ; " I do 
not know the name." 

" Very likely not," said Fink coolly; "Mr. Wohlfart came 
here from the country two or three years ago, to get an in- 
sight into the mysteries of business ; he is now in Scliroter's 
office, like myself." 

" But, my dear Fink ! " interposed the lady. 

Fink was by no means taken aback. Comfortably re- 
clining in his arm-chair, he went on, " Mr. Wohlfart is a 
striking and interesting person. There are some singular 
circumstances connected with him. I think him the finest 
fellow I ever met with. He comes from Ostrau ; and calls 
himself the son of an accountant there, now dead. But 
there hangs a mystery over him, of which he himself knows 
nothing." 

"But, Herr von Fink," said the lady, anxious to be 
heard. 

Fink looked intently at the cornice, and went on. 
"He is already the possessor of certain lands in America. 
The title-deeds have passed through my hands confi- 
dentially; but he must know nothing of it for the pre- 
sent. I myself believe that he has every prospect of more 
than a million some future day. Did you ever see the 
late archduke 1 " 

" No," said the lady, with some curiosity. 

" There are people," continued Fink, " wiio maintain that 
Anton is strikingly like him. What I have said is a secret, 
however, of which my friend knows nothing. One thing 
is certain, that the late emperor, on the occasion of his last 
journey through the province, stopped at Ostrau, and had a 
long conversation with the pastor there." 



108 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Now this last circumstance was true ; and Anton had 
chanced to mention it to Fink amongst other of his childish 
recollections. He had also stated, that the pastor in ques- 
tion had been an army chaplain in the last war, and that 
the emperor had asked him in what corps he had served. 

Fink, however, did not think it necessary to descend to 
such minutiae. Frau von Baldereck declared herself ready 
to receive Mr. Wohlfart. 

" One word more," said Fink, rising ; " what I have con- 
fided to you, good fairy " — the fairy weighed upwards of 
ten stone — " must remain a secret between us. I am sure 
I may trust to your delicacy what, were it to be spoken of 
by others, I should resent as a liberty taken with me and 
my friend, Mr. Wohlfart." He pronounced the name so 
ironically, that the lady felt convinced this gentleman, now 
under the disguise of a clerk, would soon burst upon the 
world as a prince. 

" But," said she, as they parted, " how shall I introduce 
him to my acquaintance ? " 

" Only as my best friend ; for whom I will answer, in 
every respect, as a great addition to our circle." 

When Fink found himself in the street, he muttered irre- 
verently enough, " How the old lady swallowed all my in- 
ventions, to be sure ! As the son of plain honest parents, 
they would have given the poor lad the cold shoulder. 
Now, however, they will all behave with a courtesy that 
will charm my young friend. I never thought that old 
sand-hole, and its tumble-down hut, would turn out so 
useful." 

The seed that Fink had sown fell on fruitful soil. 
Frau von Baldereck, who had a maternal design upon 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



109 



him, was only too glad to have a chance of hiin as her 
daughter s partner in these dancing-lessons, which she had 
not expected him to attend. The few hints that she ven- 
tured to throw out about Anton, being confirmed by certain 
mysterious observations made by two officers, a rumour 
became current, that a gentleman of immense fortune, 
for whom the Emperor of Russia had purchased extensive 
possessions in America, would make his appearance at the 
dancing-lessons. 

A few days later, Anton was taken by Fink to call upon 
Frau von Baldereck, from whom he received the most 
gracious, nay, pressing invitation to join their projected 
reuniom. 

The visit over, Anton, tripping down stairs on his Mentor's 
arm, remarked, in all simplicity, that he was surprised to 
find it so easy to converse with people of distinction. 

Fink muttered something, which might or might not be 
an assent, and said, " On the whole, I am satisfied with 
you. Only you must, this winter, get over that confounded 
habit of blushing. It's bad enough in a black neckcloth, 
but what will it be in a white one ? you will look like an 
apoplectic Cupid ! " 

Frau von Baldereck, however, thought this modesty 
exceedingly touching ; and when her daughter announced 
decidedly that she liked Fink much the best of the two, she 
shook her head, and smiling, replied, " You are no judge, 
dear; there is a nobility and natural grace in everything 
that the stranger does and says, perfectly enchanting." 

Meanwhile, the great day of the opening lesson arrived, 
and Fink having superintended Anton's toilette, carried him 
off to the scene of action. 



110 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



As they went dowTi stairs, tlie door of Jordan's room 
softly opened, and Specht, stretching out his long neck to 
look after them, cried out to those within, "He is gone. 
Did you ever hear of such a thing ? Why, there are only 
the nobihty there ! A pretty story it will make." 

" After all, why should he not go since he is invited ? " 
said the good-natured Jordan. To this no one knew exactly 
what to answer, till Pix cried angrily, " I do not like his 
accepting such an invitation. He belongs to us and to the 
office. He will learn no good among such people." 

" These dancing-lessons must be curious scenes," chimed 
in Specht ; " frivolous in the extreme, mere love-making 
and duelling — for which we know Wohlfart has always 
had a turn. Some fine morning we shall have him going 
out with pistols under his arm, and not returning on his 
feet." 

" Nonsense ! " replied the irritable Pix ; " they don't 
fight more than other people." 

" Then he wUl have to speak French ? " 

" Why not Russ ? " asked Mr. Pix. 

At which the two fell into a dispute as to what was 
the medium of communication in the great lady's salon. 
However, all the colleagues agreed in considering that 
Wohlfart had taken an exceedingly bold and mysterious 
step, and one pregnant with calamitous consequences. 

Nor was this the only discussion on the subject. " He 
is gone ! " announced the cousin, returning from an inter- 
view with some of the domestics. 

" Another trick of his friend Fink," said the merchant. 

Sabine looked down at her work. "I am glad," said 
she at length, " that Fink should use his influence to give 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Ill 



his friend pleasure. He himself does not care for dancing, 
and I am sure that, to attend these lessons, is in him an act 
of self-denial. And I am also truly glad that Wohlfart, 
who has hitherto led such a solitary life, should go a little 
into society." 

" But into such society as this ? How is it possible I" 
cried the cousin. 

Sabine tapped the table with her thimble. " Fink has 
spoken highly of him, and that was good and kind. And, 
in spite of the grave face of my dear brother, he shall, 
as a reward, have his favourite dish to-morrow." 

" Ham, with Burgundy sauce," added the cousin. 

Meanwhile, Fink and Anton were entering Frau von 
Baldereck's lighted rooms, and Fink, whispering, " Come, 
summon all your courage ; you have nothing to fear," led 
his unresisting friend up to the lady of the house, by whom 
they were most graciously received, and who, saying at once 
to Anton, " I will introduce you to Countess Pontak," led 
him off to a gaunt lady of uncertain age, who sat on a 
slightly-elevated seat, surrounded by a small court of her 
own. "Dear Betty, this is Mr. Wohlfart." Anton saw 
at once that " Dear Betty " had a nose of parchment, thin 
lips, and a most uupleasing countenance. He bowed before 
her with the resigned air of a prisoner, whib she began to 
cross-examine him, as to who he was, and whence he came, 
till his shyness was fast changing into annoyance, when 
Fink stepped in. 

" My friend, proud lady, is half Slavonic, though he pas- 
sionately protests against any doubts cast upon his German 
origin. I recommend him to your kindness. You have 
just given a proof of your talent for investigation, now give 



112 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



my friend the benefit of the gentle indulgence for which we 
all admire you." The ladies smiled, the gentlemen turned 
away to hide their laughter, and Betty sat there with ruffled 
feathers, like some small bird of prey whom a larger has 
robbed of its victim. 

As for Anton, he was hurrying away into a corner to re- 
cover, when he felt a light tap on his arm, and heard a fresh 
young voice say, " Mr. Wohlfart, do you not remember your 
old friend ? This is the second time that I have been 
obliged to speak first." 

Anton turned, and saw a tall, slight figure, with fair 
hair, and large dark blue eyes, smiling at him. The ex- 
pression of delight on his face was so unmistakable, that 
Lenore could not help telling him how glad she too was to 
see him again. Soon they were in full conversation ; they 
had met but three times in their lives, and yet had so much 
to say. At last the young lady reminded him that he must 
now speak to others, told him to join her when the music 
began, and, with the majesty of a queen, crossed the room 
to her mother. 

Anton was now hardened against all social terrors, 
and his embarrassment over and gone. He joined Fink, 
who introduced him to a dozen gentlemen, not one of whose 
names he remembered, caring for them no more than for 
poplars along a high-road. 

But this audacious mood vanished Avhen he approached 
the Baroness. There were the delicate featui'es, the un- 
speakable refinement, which had so impressed him when he 
saw her first. She at once discovered that he was unac- 
customed to society, and looked at him with a curiosity not 
unmingled with some misgiving ; but Lenore cut the inter- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



113 



view as short as she could, by saying that it was time to 
take their places in the dance. 

" He waltzes tolerably — too much swing, perhaps," mut- 
tered Fink to himself. 

" A distinguished-looking pair," cried Frau von Bal- 
dereck, as Anton and Lenore whirled past, 

" She talks too much to him," said the Baroness to her 
husband, who happened to join her. 

" To him 1 " asked he ; " who is the young man 1 I 
have never seen the face before." 

" lie is one of the adherents of Herr von Fink — he is 
alone here — has rich relatives in Russia or America ; I do 
not like the acquaintance for Lenore." 

"Why not?" replied the Baron; "he looks a good, 
innocent sort of youth, and is far better suited for this 
child's-play than the old boys that I see around. There is 
Bruno Tonnchen, whose only pleasure is to make the girls 
blush, or teach them to leave off blushing. Lenore looks 
uncommonly well to-night. I am going to my whist ; 
send for me when the carriage is ready." 

Anton heard none of these comments upon him ; and if 
the hum of the company around had been as loud as that 
of the great bell of the city's highest steeple, he would not 
have heard it better ! For him the whole world had 
shrunk to the circle round which he and his partner re- 
volved. The beautiful fair head so near his own that some- 
times they touched, the warm breath that played on his 
cheek, the unspeakable charm of the white glove that hid 
her small hand, the perfume of her handkerchief, the red 
flowers fastened to her dress — these he saw and felt ; all 
besides was darkness, barrenness, nothingness ! 

H 



114 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Suddenly the music stopped, and Anton's world fell back 
into chaos. "What a pity !" said Lenore, as the last note 
died away. 

"I thank you for this bliss !" said Anton, leading her 
back to her place. 

As he moved to and fro in the crowd like a rudderless 
ship amidst the waves, Fink took him in tow, and said, 
" I say, you hypocrite, you have either drunk sweet wine, 
or you are a quiet sort of Don Juan. How long have you 
known the Rothsattel ? You have never spoken of her to 
me. She has a lovely figure and a classical face. Has 
she any sense ? " 

At that moment how unspeakably Anton despised his 
friend ! Such an expression as that could only proceed 
from the most degraded of human beings. 

" Sense !" exclaimed he, casting on Fink a look of deadly 
enmity ; "he who doubts it must be utterly devoid of sense 
himself" 

" Well, well !" exclaimed Fink in amazement ; " I am not 
in that melancholy plight, for I think the girl, or rather 
the young lady, uncommonly lovely ; and had I not some 
small engagements elsewhere, I might feel constrained to 
choose her for the mistress of my affections. As it is, I 
can only admire her afar off." 

"You are right !" said Anton, squeezing his arm. 

"Really," returned Fink, in his usual careless tone, 
" you begin well, it must be allowed ; go on, my son, and 
prosper." 

And Anton did go on, and did his Mentor honour. He 
was indeed intoxicated, but not with wine. The music, 
the excitement of the dance, the gay scene around, inspired 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



115 



him ; he felt self-confident, nay, daring ; and, one or two 
trifling solecisms excepted, behaved as if he had been sur- 
rounded by wax-lights and obsequious domestics all the days 
of his life. He was a good deal remarked — made, indeed, 
quite a sensation ; while dark hints of a mystery attached 
to him spread from corner to corner of the spacious rooms. 

At length came the cotillon ! Anton sought out Lenore, 
who exclaimed, " I knew that you would dance it with 
me !" This was to both the happiest part of the whole 
happy evening. 

As to all that followed, it was a mere indistinct vision. 
Anton was dimly conscious of walking about with Fink, of 
talking and laughing with him and others, of bowing be- 
fore the lady of the house, and murmuring his thanks ; of 
having his paletot reached him by a servant, and of putting 
something into his hand ; but all this was sliadowy and 
unreal. He only saw one thing clearly : a white cloak, 
with a silk hood and a tassel — oh, that tassel ! Once 
more the large eyes shone full upon him, and he heard the 
whispered words, "Good-night!" Then came an uninter- 
esting dream of going up-stairs with Fink, and but half 
hearing his jesting comments; of entering a small room, 
lighting a lamp, and wondering whether it was really here 
he lived ; of slowly undressing, and at length falling asleep. 



116 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER XL 



OINCE the important evening above described, the danc- 
ing-lessons had gone on regularly ; and Anton, having 
got over the purgatory of the first introduction, began to 
feel perfectly at home. Indeed, he became a useful member 
of the association, and was a pattern of assiduity and 
punctuality, and a striking contrast to Fink, who horrified 
the dancing-master by declaring, that the galop step was 
fitted for every and all dances alike, and by waltzing in 
the most eccentric orbits conceivable. 

The fact was, Anton was so happy that his transfigured 
aspect struck both the young and the old ladies, confirming 
the former in their conviction that he was good and true- 
liearted ; and the latter in theirs, that he was a prince in 
<iisguise. He himself best knew the secret of his bliss. 
Every thought of his loyal heart revolved around its abso- 
lute mistress. All dances or conversations with others he 
looked upon as mere flourishes surrounding her name; 
neither was he without his reward. She soon treated 
him like an old friend ; and whenever she entered the 
room, it was not till she had discovered his brown curls 
amongst the circle, that she felt at home in the brilliant 
assembly. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



117 



It is, however, a melancholy fact, that destiny never long 
permits a child of earth to feel his whole nature and circum- 
stances strung up to their utmost sweetness and power. It 
invariably contrives to let down some string while winding 
up another. Hence arises a discord, such as Anton was now 
called upon to experience. 

It was plain that the gentlemen of the counting-house 
looked with critical eye upon the change in his way of life. 
There existed every possible diversity among them, it is 
tme ; but all were unanimous in pronouncing that, since 
he had attended these dancing-lessons, our hero had greatly 
changed for the worse. They declared that his increased 
silence was pride, his frequent absences in an evening 
tokens of unbecoming levity ; and he who had once been a 
universal favourite was now in danger of being universally 
condemned. He himself considered the colder bearing of 
his colleagues very unkind ; and so it came to pass that, for 
several weeks, he lived almost exclusively with Fink, and 
that the two formed, as it were, an aristocratic section iu 
opposition to the rest. 

Anton was more depressed by this state of things than he 
chose to confess — he felt it everywhere ; at his desk, in his 
room, nay, even at dinner. If Jordan wanted a commission 
executed, it was no longer to him but to Baumann that he 
turned ; when Purzel, the cashier, came into the office, he 
no longer accepted Anton's seat ; and though Specht ad- 
dressed him oftener than ever, it was no comfort to have 
questions like these whispered in his ear, " Is it true that 
Baron von Berg has dapple-grey horses or, "Must you 
wear patent leather boots, or shoes, at Frau von Bal- 
dereck's ?" But Fix, his former patron, was the severest of 



118 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



all. Excessive toleration had never been one of this gentle- 
man's weaknesses ; and he now, for no very definite reasons, 
looked upon Anton as a traitor to himself and the firm. 
He was in the habit of keeping his birthday in a most festal 
manner, surrounded by all his friends ; and, knowing this, 
Anton had purposely refused an invitation of Herr von 
Zernitz, yet, when the day came, Fink and he were not in- 
cluded among the birthday-guests. 

Anton felt this deeply ; and to make matters worse, 
Specht confidentially told him that Pix had declared, that 
a young gentleman who associated with lieutenants, and 
frequented Feroni's, was no companion for a plain man of 
business. As he sat alone and heard the merry laughter 
of his colleagues, he fell into a melancholy mood, which none 
of his ball-room recollections had the power to dispel. 

For, truth to tell, he was not satisfied with himself — he 
was changed. He was not exactly negligent of business, 
but it gave him no pleasure — his work w^as a task. Some- 
times in writing letters, he had forgotten the most important 
clauses — nay, once or twice he had made mistakes as to 
prices, and Jordan had handed him them back to re-write. 
He fancied, too, that the principal had not noticed him for 
some time past, and that Sabine's greeting had grown colder. 
Even the good-natured Karl had asked him, ironically he 
thought, whether he, as well as Fink, had a pass-key 1 It 
was in this mood that he now sat down to look over his own 
accounts, which of late he had omitted to keep punctually. 
He was horrified to find that his debts amounted to more 
than he could pay without mortgaging his little inheritance. 
He felt very unhappy and out of tune ; but fate willed that 
the discord should increase. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



119 



Two or three evenings later, the merchant returning early 
from his chib, answered Sabine's greeting dryly, and paced 
up and down the room. 

"What is the matter, Traugott ?" asked she. 

He threw himself into a chair. " Would you like to 
know how Fink got his prot^gd introduced into Frau von 
Baldereck's circle 1 You were so ready to admire this proof 
of his friendship ! He has concocted a whole system of lies, 
and made the inexperienced Wohlfart play the part of a 
mere adventurer." And he went on to narrate all that we 
already know. 

"But is it certain that Fink has done this?" 

" Not a doubt of it. It is exactly like him. It is the 
same reckless, unscrupulous spirit, that neither heeds the life 
nor the reputation of a friend." 

Sabine fell back in her chair, and again her heart swelled 
with indignation. " Oh, how sad it is !" cried she ; "but 
Wohlfart is innocent, that I am convinced of. Such false- 
hoods are not in his nature." 

" I shall know to-morrow," said the merchant ; " for his 
own sake I hope you are right." 

The next day the principal summoned Anton to his own 
apartment, and telling him the rumours that had arisen, 
asked him what he had done to contradict them. 

Anton replied in much amazement, " That he knew no- 
thing of such rumours as these ; that sometimes, indeed, he 
had been joked with as to his means, but that he had always 
avowed how small they were." 

"Have you spoken decidedly?" asked the merchant 
severely. 

" I believe that I have," was the honest reply. 



120 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" These idle tales would not signify," continued the 
principal ; " but that they expose you to the charge of hav- 
ing sought, by unworthy means, to gain a position to which 
you are not entitled, and also that they tend to degrade 
your parents' reputation ; for it is given out that you are the 
son of a man of very high rank." 

" my mother !" cried Anton, wringing his hands, and 
the tears rolling down his cheeks. As soon as he could 
control his emotion, he said — 

" The most painful part of all this is, that you should 
liave supposed me capable of circulating these falsehoods. 
I implore you to believe that I never knew of them till 
now." 

" I am glad to believe it," said the merchant ; " but you 
have done much to substantiate them. You have appeared 
in a circle, and incurred expenses, which were alike unsuited 
to your position and your fortune." 

Anton felt that he would greatly prefer the centre of the 
earth to its surface. At length he cried, " I know it — you 
are right, nay, I knew it all the time ; and especially since 
I found that I had run into debt," — here the merchant 
smiled almost imperceptibly, — " I have felt that I was on 
the wrong road altogether, though I did not know how to 
retrace my steps. But now I will lose no more time." 

" Was it not Fink who introduced you to that circle 1 
Perhaps," said the merchant, " he may be able to throw 
some light on the affair." 

" Allow me to call him," said Anton, " and let him be 
witness as to whether I knew of this." 

" Certainly, if it be any satisfaction to you ; " and Fink 
was summoned. On entering, he looked with astonishment 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



121 



at Anton's excited aspect, and cried, without particularly 
heeding the principal's presence, " The devil ! you have 
been weeping ! " 

"Over calumnies," said the merchant gravely, "which 
affect his own character as a respectable man of business, 
and the honour of his family." And he proceeded to state 
the whole affair. 

" He is quite innocent," said Fink good-naturedly ; 
" innocent and harmless as the violet that blows in the 
shade. He knew nothing of this ridiculous affair ; and 
if any one be to blame, it is I, and the babbling fools who 
have spread the story. Don't torment yourself, Anton ; 
since it annoys you, we will soon set it all to rights." 

" I shall go once more," declared Anton, " to Frau 
von Baldereck, and tell her that I can no longer attend the 
dancing-parties." 

" As you like," said Fink. " At all events, you have 
learnt to dance, and to hold your hat like a gentleman." 

Before dinner, the merchant said to his sister, "You 
were right, Wohlfart had nothing to do with it ; it was all 
Fink's invention." 

" I knew it," cried Sabine, drawing out her needle vehe- 
mently. 

Anton worked hard all day, said little, and, when even- 
ing came, went up-stairs to dress, like a man whose mind 
is made up. 

If Fink could have seen into his heart, he would have 
been shocked at the sorrow there. It was not alone wounded 
self-love, mortification, shame, but the anguish of bidding 
farewell to Lenore. As it was, " I say," cried he, " I have 
a notion that you take this nonsense a great deal too 



122 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



tragically. Arc you angry with me ? " holding out his 
hand. 

" Neither with you nor with any one else ; but let me 
for once act for myself" 

" What are you going to do 1 " 

" Do not ask me. I have but one thing to do." 

" So be it, then," was the good-humoured reply; "but do 
not forget that anything like a scene would only amuse 
those people." 

" Trust me," said Anton ; " I shall make none." 

It happened to be a very gay meeting, and there were 
more gentlemen present than usual. Anton at once went 
up to Lenore, who came to meet him, more lovely than ever, 
in her first ball dress, saying, " How late you are ! Come, 
papa is here, and I want to introduce you to him. But 
what is the matter, you look so grave 1 " 

" Dear lady," returned Anton, " I do indeed feel sad. I 
cannot dance the next dance with you ; and am only come 
to apologize to you, and to the lady of the house, for my 
abrupt departure." 

" Mr. Wohlfart ! " cried Lenore, clasping her hands. 

" Your good opinion is more to me than that of all 
others," said he, blushing ; and proceeded rapidly to state the 
whole story, assuring her that he had known nothing of it. 

" I believe you," said Lenore cordially ; " and, indeed, 
papa said that it was all most probably an idle tale. And 
because of this you will give up our dancing-parties !" 

" I will," said Anton ; " for, if I do not, I run a risk of 
being considered an intruder or an impostor." 

Lenore tossed her little head. " Go, then, sir ! " and she 
turned away. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



123 



Anton stood like one annihilated. Had he been ten 
years older, he might have interpreted her anger more 
favourably. As it was, a bitter pang thrilled through him. 
But the thought of what was still to be done nerved him to 
overcome it, and he walked steadily, nay, proudly, to where 
Frau von Baldereck was doing the honours. All the 
most distinguished members of the party were around her. 
The gaunt old Countess sat drinking a cup of tea. The 
Baroness was there ; and near her, a tall handsome man, 
whom Anton knew instinctively to be Lenore's father. As 
he adv^anced to make his bow to the lady of the house, his 
glance took in the whole scene at once. Years have passed 
since then ; but still he knows the colour of every dress, could 
count the flowers in the bouquet of the Baroness, ay, and re- 
members the gilt pattern on the Countess's tea-cup. Frau von 
Baldereck received his obeisance with a gracious smile, and 
was about to say something flattering, w^hen Anton inter- 
rupted her, and in a voice that shook a little, perhaps, but 
was audible throughout the room, began his address, which 
was soon listened to in profound silence. " Madam, I have 
this day heard that a rumour has been spread of my pos- 
sessing lands in America, and exciting an interest in certain 
high quarters. I now declare that this is all false. I am 
the son of a late accountant in Ostrau, and I inherit from 
my parents hardly anything beyond an unsullied name. 
You, Madam, have been kind enough to invite me, an 
insignificant stranger, to take part in your reunions this 
winter. After what I have just heard, I dare do so no 
longer, lest I should thus substantiate the idle reports I 
have mentioned, and be suspected of imposing upon 
your hospitality. Therefore, I have only to thank you 



124 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



sincerely for your past kindness, and to take my leave." 
The whole party was struck dumb ! Anton bowed, and 
turned to go. 

Just then, there flew out, from the paralyzed circle, a 
brilliant form, and taking both his hands in hers, Lenore 
looked at him with tearful eyes, and said, in a broken voice, 
" Farewell ! " The door closed, and all was over. 

When life returned in the room he had left, the first 
words audible were the Baroness's whisper to her daughter, 
" Lenore, you have forgotten yourself." 

"Do not blame her," said the Baron aloud, with great 
presence of mind ; "the daughter only did what the father 
should have done. Tlie young man has behaved admirably, 
and we cannot but esteem him." 

A murmur, however, began to arise from different groups. 
" Quite a dramatic scene," said the lady of the house ; " but 
who then said " 

" Ay, who was it that said," interposed Von Tonnchen. 
All eyes turned to Fink. 

"It was you, Herr von Fink, who" — Frau von Bal- 
dereck majestically began. 

" I ! my dear lady ! " said Fink, with the composure of 
a just man unjustly accused. " ^Vhat have I to do with 
the report ? I have always contradicted it as much as 
possible." 

" Yes," said several voices ; "but then you used to hint — " 

" And you certainly did say ," interpolated Frau 

von Baldereck. 

"What?" coldly inquired the imperturbable Fink. 

"That this Mr. Wohlfart was mysteriously connected 
with the Czar." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



125 



" Impossible ! " cried Fink earnestly ; " that is a complete 
misunderstanding. In describing the appearance of the 
gentleman, then unkno^Yn to you, I may possibly have men- 
tioned an accidental likeness, but " 

" But the American property," chimed in Herr von Tonn- 
chen ; " why, you yom'self made it over to him, and re- 
quested us to keep the transaction a profound secret." 

"As you have kept my secret so well," replied Fink, 
"as to tell it everywhere, and now in my presence, before 
all assembled here, you and Zernitz are evidently answer- 
able for the whole foolish rumour. And now listen, gen- 
tlemen ; my friend Wohlfart having once expressed a playful 
wish to have laud in America, I amused myself by making 
him a Christmas-box of a certain possession of mine on 
Long Island, near New York, which possession consists of 
a few sand-hills, and a tumble-down hut, built for wild-duck 
shooting. It was natural -that I should ask you not to 
mention this, and I am very sorry that, from such a trifle, 
you should have spun a web that excludes a delightful 
man from our circle." And then a cold irony spreading 
over his features, he went on, "I rejoice to see how strongly 
you all share my feeling, and despise the low snobbishness 
of soul which could consider a man more fitted for 
society, because a foreign potentate had evinced an interest 
in him. And since we have begim this evening's dance 
with explanations, let me further explain, that Mr. Anton 
Wohlfart is the son of a late accountant in Ostrau, and 
that I shaU consider any further allusion to this misunder- 
standing as an insult to my most intimate friend. And 
now, my dear lady, I am engaged to your daughter for the 
first quadriJle, and can positively wait no longer." 



126 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



In the course of the evening, Lieutenant von Zemitz 
came up and said, " Fink, you have made fun of us, and I 
am sorry to be under the necessity of demanding satis- 
faction." 

" Be rational, and do nothing of the kind," replied Fink. 
" We have shot together so often, it would be a pity now 
to take each other for a mark." 

Fink being by far the best shot in the room, Herr von 
Zernitz allowed himself to be convinced. 

Anton had vanished from the fashionable- circle, like 
a falling star, and he never reappeared therein. True, it 
did occur to Frau von Baldereck, rather late in the day, 
that it would be proper occasionally to invite the young 
man, to prove that he had not been tolerated merely as — 
what he was not ! and some other families thought the same ; 
but as these invitations came, as before said, rather late, 
and as Anton declined them, his fate was that of many a 
greater man — society forgot him ! For a short tune the 
two chief hatchers of the grand report, Messrs. von Tonnchen 
and von Zemitz, spoke to him when they met him in the 
street ; for a whole year they bowed, then they too knew 
him no more. 

The following day, Anton told the merchant all that had 
passed, begged him to forgive his late remissness, and pro- 
mised greater attention in future. 

" I have no fault to find," replied the merchant kindly. 
" And now let me see the amount of your debts, that we 
may get yoiu: affairs in order." Anton drew a slip of paper 
from his pocket, the cashier was called, the sum paid, and 
put down to Anton's account ; and that was settled. 

In the evening Fink said to Anton, " You went off with 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



127 



flying colours ; the oldest man there declared aloud that 
you had behaved admirably." 

" Who said that ? " Fink told him it was the Baron 
Rothsattel, and did not appear to remark his deep blush. 
It would have been better," continued he, " if you had not 
taken such a decided step. Why avoid the whole circle, in 
which there are some who have a strong personal regard 
for your' 

" I have done what my own feelings prompted," said 
Anton ; " perhaps one older and more experienced might 
have managed better ; but you cannot blame me for not 
taking your advice in this matter." 

" It is singular," thought Fink, as he went down stairs, 
"what different events teach different men to have and 
exert wills of their own. This boy has become independent 
in one night, and whatever fate may now have in store for 
him, he is sure to acquit himself well." 

It spoke highly, both for Anton and his friend, that 
their intimacy was by no means decreased by the circum- 
stances just related. On the contrary, it was deepened. 
Fink behaved with more consideration, and Anton gained 
more freedom, both of opinion and action. The influence 
of the younger of the friends weaned the elder from many 
an evil habit. Anton being more than ever zealous in his 
attendance to his office duties, and more obliging to his 
colleagues. Fink insensibly accustomed himself to greater 
application and punctuality. There was only one subject 
that he never touched upon, though he weU knew that it 
was always uppermost in Anton's mind, and that was the 
lovely young girl who had shown so much heart and spirit 
on the occasion of his last dancing-lesson. 



128 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER XII. 



EVER had the flowers bloomed so gorgeously, never had 



the birds sung so gaily, as they did this summer on 
the Baron's estate. The season spent in town had greatly 
extended the family acquaintance, and the castle was, in 
consequence, almost always full of guests. Dances, rides, 
acted charades, amusements of every kind, filled up the 
laughing hours. 

What happy days these were to Lenore ! True, she still 
remained something of an original ; and her mother would 
at times shake her head at some daring freak or over- 
emphatic speech. It came naturally to her to play the 
gentleman's part whenever there was a lack of gentlemen. 
She was the leader in every expedition, delighting to carry 
off all her young female friends to some distant spot whence 
there was a fine view, to force them into some little village 
inn, where they had only milk and black bread for supper, 
and then to carry them all home dead-tired in a waggon, 
which she herself would drive standing. She had a way 
of treating young men with a sort of motherly kindness, as 
though they were still little bread-and-butter-eating urchins ; 
and on the occasion of a certain dramatic representation, 
she horrified her mother by appearing in a, male character. 




DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



129 



with a riding-whip and a little beard, which she twisted 
about in the most fascinating way. But she looked so 
wondrously lovely, even thus attired, that her mother could 
not chide in earnest. 

If, however, there was any one not entirely satisfied with 
this way of life, it was the Baroness. A certain pre-occupation 
and restlessness had stolen over her husband — the cloudless 
serenity of former years was gone. It was but a slight 
change, visible only to the wife's eyes ; and even she owned 
to herself that she was hardly justified in grieving over it. 

Just at this time, too, a great joy awaited her. Eugene 
had passed his examination, and promised them a visit to 
show them his epaulettes. His mother had his room newly 
fitted up, and his father placed some first-rate guns and a 
new hunting-dress in it as a present for him. On the day 
of his arrival he rode out to meet him, and it was a pleasant 
sight to see the two noble-looking men embrace, and then 
ride home together. 

" We will surprise the ladies," said the Baron, and soon 
the Baroness clasped her son in her arms. This was the 
climax of happiness at the Castle. Both parents' eyes 
glistened whenever they rested on their son. True, some of 
his expressions and gestures savoured of the riding-school, 
but the Baroness only smiled at them all. From time im- 
memorial, indeed, the stable has been for the young cavalier 
the ante-chamber of the saloon. Eugene soon became 
supreme among the band of young ladies ; he paid visits all 
around, invited friends in return ; in short, one gaiety suc- 
ceeded another. 

To all this there was only one drawback of which the 
Baron was conscious. He could no longer live within his 

I 



130 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



income. What had been possible for twenty years, now 
became manifestly an utter impossibility. The winter resi- 
dence in town, the epaulettes of his son, Lenore's gauzes and 
laces ; even the additional interest of his promissory-notes, 
all tended to embarrass him. The returns from his property 
were eagerly expected, and already in part forestalled ; nor 
were they increased. Nay, many a projected improvement 
of former years remained unaccomplished. He had once 
meant to plant a sandy waste at the extremity of his estate, 
but even that small outlay was inconvenient, and the yellow 
sand still glistened in the sun. Again he was obliged to 
open the inlaid casket, and take out some of the fair parch- 
ments : and again his brow grew clouded, and his mind 
troubled. But it was no longer the same agony of anxiety 
as before — he had had a little practice, and looked at things 
with a calmer eye. Something would turn up — there would 
be some way or other of becoming freed from these embar- 
rassments ; at most, he need only spend two more winters in 
town till Lenore's education should be quite completed, and 
then he would devote himself energetically to the care of his 
property. Meanwhile, he resolved to talk matters •over a 
little with Ehrenthal, for on the whole he was an honourable 
man, that is, as far as a tradesman could be so ; and what 
was more, he knew the Baron's circumstances exactly, and 
it was easier to discuss them with him than with a stranger. 

As usual, Ehrenthal appeared just when wanted. His 
diamond breast-pin shone as usual, his obsequious compli- 
ments were as ludicrous as ever, and his admiration of the 
property as boundless. The Baron took him all over the 
farm, and good-humouredly said, " You must give me some 
advice, Ehrenthal." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



131 



Only two or three years had passed since a similar walk 
over this farm, and how the times had changed ! Then, 
Ehrenthal had to insinuate his advice to the proud Baron ; 
and now, the Baron himself asked him for it ! 

In the lightest tone that he could assume, he went on 
to say — 

" I have had greater expenses than usual this year. 
Even the promissory notes do not yield enough, and I must 
therefore think of increasing my income. What would you 
consider the best means of doing this ?" 

The usurer's eyes brightened ; but he answered, with 
all due deference, " The Baron must be a better judge of 
that than I can be." 

" None of your bargains, however, Ehrenthal. I shall 
not enter into partnership with you again." 

Ehrenthal replied, shaking his head, " There are not, 
indeed, many such bargains to be made, which I could con- 
scientiously recommend. The Baron has five-and-forty 
thousand dollars' worth of promissory notes. Why do you 
keep them when they pay so small an interest ? If you 
were, instead, to buy a good mortgage at five per cent., you 
would pay four per cent, to the Joint-Stock Company, and 
one per cent, would be your own ; in other words, a yearly 
addition of four hundred and fifty dollars. But you might 
make a better thing of them than that. There are many safe 
mortgages which are off'ered to sale for ready money, at a 
great profit to the purchaser. You might, perhaps, for forty 
thousand dollars, or even less, get a mortgage that would 
bring you in five per cent, on forty-five thousand dollars." 

" I have thought of that," replied the Baron ; " but the 
security for such mortgages as these, which come into the 



132 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



hands of you brokers, is exceedingly poor, and I cannot 
rely on it." 

Ehrenthal waived off this reproach, and said, in a tone of 
virtuous indignation against all dealers in insecure mort- 
gages, " For my own part, I am very shy of mortgages 
altogether, and such as are in the market are not fit for the 
Baron, of course. You must apply to a trustworthy man, 
— your own lawyer, for instance, may be able to procure 
you a good mortgage." 

" Then you really know of none !" said the Baron, 
secretly hoping that he did. 

" I know of none," was the positive reply ; " but if you 
wish, I can inquire — there are always some to be had. 
Your la^^er can tell you what he would consider good 
security. Only you would have to pay down the sum- 
total, in case you procured it from him ; whereas, if you 
could get one from a commercial man, you might make a 
profit of some thousands." 

Now, this profit was a most important point to the 
Baron, and his mind was made up to realize it if possible. 
But he only said, " There is no hurry — should you hear of 
anything desirable you can let me know." 

" I will do all I can," was the cautious reply ; " but it 
wiU be well that the Baron should also make inquiries 
himself, for I am not accustomed to deal in mortgages." 

If this assertion were not strictly true, it was at all events 
politic, for the cool indifference of the tradesman increased 
the Baron's confidence in him tenfold. The following day 
he went to town, and had a consultation with his lawyer, 
who strongly advised him to give up the idea of making 
any such profit as he contemplated, because such a mort- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



133 



gage would infallibly prove insecure. But this good advice 
only confirmed the Baron in his intention of taking his own 
way in the matter. 

A few days later, a tall stout man, with a shining red 
face, called upon the Baron — a Mr. Pinkus, from the capi- 
tal. He heard, he said, that the Baron wished to invest, 
and he knew of a remarkably safe and desirable mortgage, 
on a large property in the neighbouring province, belonging 
to the rich Count Zaminsky, who lived abroad. This pro- 
perty had every possible advantage, including two thousand 
acres of magnificent natural wood. The mortgage was at 
present in Count Zaminsky's own hands. It was possible, 
Pinkus mysteriously hinted, to purchase it for ninety per 
cent. ; in other words, for thirty-six thousand dollars. 
Certainly, it was a pity that the property lay in another 
province, where agriculturists had many primitive peculi- 
arities. But it was only six miles from the frontier — the 
neighbouring town was on the high road — the estate was 
princely. In short, the drawbacks were so small, and the 
advantages so great, that Pinkus never could have made 
up his mind to let a stranger purchase it, had he not been 
such an example of human perfection as the Baron. 

The Baron received the compliment in a dignified man- 
ner, and before his departure Pinkus laid down a heavy 
roll of parchment, that the question of the secmity might 
be carefully investigated. 

Early the next morning the Baron took the deeds to his 
man of business, and himself ascended the dirty staircase 
that led to the white door of Ehrenthal, who was overjoyed 
to hear of his visit — dressed himself with the utmost ra- 
pidity, and insisted upon the Baron doing him the infinite 



134 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



honour of breakfasting with him. The Baron was not 
cruel enough to refuse, and accordingly he was ushered 
into the state apartment, where the contrast between splen- 
dour and shabbiness amused him not a little, as did also 
that between the gorgeous attire of the beautiful RosaUe, 
and the sneaking, crouching manner of her father. 

During breakfast, the Baron asked Ehrenthal whether he 
happened to know a Mr. Pinkus. 

At this business-like inquiry, Rosalie vanished, and her 
father sat bolt upright. " Yes, I do know him," said he ; 
" he is in a very small way, but I believe him an upright 
man. He is in a very small way, and all his business is 
with Poland." 

" Have you mentioned to him my wish to buy a mort- 
gage ?" 

" How should I have thought of mentioning it to him ? 
If he has offered you a mortgage, he must have heard of it 
from another dealer, of whom I did make inquiries. But 
Pinkus is in a small way ; how can he procure a mortgage 
for you?" And Ehrenthal indicated by a gestui'e, how 
small Pinkus was, and by a look upwards, how immeasur- 
ably great his guest. 

The Baron then told him all particulars, and asked about 
the property and circumstances of the Count. 

Ehrenthal knew nothing ; but he bethought himself that 
there was then in town a respectable tradesman from that 
very district, and promised to have him sent to the Baron, 
who soon after took his leave, Ehrenthal accompanying him 
down stairs, and saying — " Be cautious about the mortgage, 
Baron ; it is good money, and there are many bad mort- 
gages. To be sure there are good mortgages too ; and, of 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



135 



course, people will say a good deal to recommend their own. 
As to Lobel Pinkus, lie is in but a small way of business ; 
but, so far as I know, a trustworthy man. All you tell me 
about the mortgage sounds well, I own ; but I humbly en- 
treat you, Baron, to be cautious — very cautious." 

The Baron, not much enlightened by this wordy address, 
went to his town house, and impatiently waited for the 
arrival of the stranger, who soon came. His name was 
Lowenberg, and his appearance was a sort of medley of 
that of Ehrenthal and Pinkus, only he was thinner. He 
gave himself out as a wine-merchant, and appeared inti- 
mately acquainted with the Count and his property. He 
said that the present possessor was young, and lived abroad ; 
that his father had been rather a bad manager ; but that 
though the estate was burdened, it was not in the very 
least endangered. The land was not in high cultivation, 
therefore was susceptible of improvement; and he hoped 
the young Count was the very man to see to it. On the 
whole, his report was decidedly favourable ; there was no 
exaggeration about it — all was sensible and straightforward. 
The Baron's mind was very nearly made up, and he went 
off straightway to one of his acquaintance, who knew the 
Zaminsky family. He did not hear much from him cer- 
tainly ; but still it was rather favourable than otherwise. 
On the other hand, Ehrenthal called to inform him that 
the wool of the sheep of that district was seldom fine, 
and to beg that he would consult his lawyer before he 
decided. 

Ehrenthal's little ofiice was on the same floor as the rest 
of the apartments, and opened out upon the hall. It was 
evening before he returned to it, in a state of great excite- 



136 



DEBIT AXD CREDIT. 



ment. Itzig, who had been sitting before a blank book, 
wearily waiting for his master, wondered what could be the 
matter, when Ehrenthal eagerly said to him, " Itzig, now is 
the time to show whether you deserve your wages, and the 
advantage of a Sabbath dinner in good society." 

"What am I to do ?" replied Veitel, rising. 

" First, you are to tell Lobel Pinkus to come here, and 
then to get me a bottle of wine and two glasses. Next, go 
and bring me word to whom in Rosmin, Councillor Horn, 
who lives near the market-place, has witten to-day ; or if 
not to-day, to whom he writes to-morrow. In finding this 
out you may spend five dollars ; and if you bring me back 
word this evening, you shall have a ducat for yourself." 

Veitel felt a glow of delight, but replied calmly, " I know 
none of Councillor Horn's clerks, and must have some time 
to become acquainted with them." 

He ordered the bottle of wine, and ran off into the street 
like a dog in scent of game. 

Meanwhile Ehrenthal, his hat still on, his hands behind 
his back, w^alked up and down, nodding his head, and look- 
ing in the twilight like an ugly ghost who once has had his 
head cut off and cannot now keep it steadily on. 

As Veitel went on his way, his mind kept working much 
as follows : — " What can be in the wind 1 It must be an 
important affair, and I am to know nothing about it ! I 
am to send Pinkus. Pinkus was with Ehrenthal a few 
Says ago, and the next morning he went to Baron Roth- 
sattel's place in the country ; so it must have something to 
do with the Baron. And now, as to these letters. If I 
could catch the clerk who takes them to the post, and con- 
trive to read the directions, I should save money. But 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



137 



how manage this 1 Well, I must find out some way or 
other." And accordingly, Veitel posted himself at the 
door, and soon saw a young man rush out with a packet of 
letters in his hand. He followed him, and turning sharply 
round a comer, contrived to meet him. Touching his hat, 
" You are from Councillor Horn s office ? " 

" Yes," said the clerk, in a hurry to get on. 

" I am from the country, and have been waiting for three 
days for an important letter from the Councillor ; perhaps 
you may have one for me." 

"What is your name"?" said the clerk, looking at him 
mistrustfully. 

" Bemhard Madgeburg, of Ostrau," said Veitel ; "but the 
letter may be addressed to my uncle." 

" There is no letter for you," replied the clerk, hurriedly 
glancing at the directions. 

Do what he would, Veitel's eyes could not follow this 
rapid shuffling, so he seized the packet, and while the en- 
raged official, catching hold of him, exclaimed, " What are 
you about, man ! how dare you ?" he devoured the direc- 
tions, gave back the letters, and touching his hat, coolly 
said, " Nothing for me ; do not lose the post — I am going 
to the Councillor," turned on his heel and made his escape. 

Spite of this bold stroke, he could only remember two or 
three of the addresses. " Perhaps I have made my money," 
thought he; "and if not, there's no time lost." So he 
went back, and creeping to the office door, stood and 
listened. The worthy Pinkus was speaking, but very low, 
and Veitel could make little of it. At last, however, the 
voices grew louder. 

" How can you ask such a large sum ?" cried Ehrenthal 



138 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



angrily ; " I have been mistaken in thinking you a trust- 
worthy man." 

" I am trustworthy," replied Pinkus ; " but I must have 
four hundred dollars, or this affair will fall through." 

" How dare you say it will fall through ? What do you 
know about it ?" 

" I know this much, that I can get four hundred dollars from 
the Baron by telling him what I know," screamed Pinkus. 

" You are a rascal ! You are a traitor ! Do you know 
who it is that you use thus ? I can ruin your credit, 
and disgrace you in the eyes of all men of business." 

" And I can show the Baron what sort of a man you are," 
cried Pinkus, with equal vehemence. 

At this the door opened, and Veitel plunged into the 
shadow of the staircase. 

"I will give you till to-morrow to consider," were 
Pinkus' s parting words. 

Veitel coolly stepped into the office, and his patron hardly 
noticed him. He was pacing up and down the little room, 
like a wild beast in its cage, and exclaiming, "Just heavens ! 
that this Pinkus should turn out such a traitor ! He will 
blab the whole matter ; he will ruin me !" 

" Why should he ruin you 1 " asked Veitel, throwing his 
hat on the desk. 

"What are you doing here ? What have you overheard ? " 

" Everything," was the cool reply. " You have both 
screamed so as to be heard all over the hall. Why do you 
keep the affair a secret from me ? I could have compelled 
Lobel to give you better terms." 

Ehrenthal stared in utter amazement at the audacious 
youth, and could only bring out, " What does this mean 1 " 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



139 



" I know Piiikus well," continued Veitel, determined 
henceforth to take a part in the game. " If you give him 
a hundred dollars, he will readily sell you a good mortgage 
for the Baron." 

" How should you know anything about the mortgage 1 " 

" I know enough to help in the matter," replied Itzig ; 
" and I will help you if you trust me." 

Ehrenthal continued to stare and stare, till at last it 
dawned upon him that his assistant had more coolness and 
decision than himself. Accordingly, he said, "You are a 
good creature, Veitel ; go and bring in Pinkus, he shall 
have the hundred dollars." 

" I have seen the directions of the Councillor's letters — 
there was one to Commissary Walter." 

"I thought so," cried Ehrenthal with delight. "All right, 
Itzig ; now for Lobel." 

" I have to pay five dollars to the Councillor's clerk," 
continued the youth ; " and I am to have a ducat for my- 
self." 

" All right ! you shall have the money ; but first I must 
see Pinkus." 

Veitel hastened to his lodgings, and found Pinkus 
still much excited, and revolving all Ehrenthal' s injurious 
speeches. 

In a few decided words, he gave him to understand that 
he was quietly to accept a hundred dollars, and to help 
Ehrenthal in this matter, else he, Veitel, would give the 
police a hint of the mysterious chamber in the next house, 
and of the smuggling guests ; and further, that henceforth 
he must have a comfortable room on reasonable terms, and 
be treated no longer like a poor devil, but an equal. The 



140 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



result of which address was, that after a good deal of useless 
fuming and fretting, Pinkus accompanied Veitel to Ehren- 
thal's house, where both worthies shook hands and came 
to terms ; soon after which Veitel opened tlie door for 
Lowenberg, the wine-merchant, and was politely dismissed. 
This time he did not care to listen, but returned to enjoy 
his supper in his new apartment. 

Meanwhile Ehrenthal said, over a glass of wine, to Low- 
enberg, " I have heard that Councillor Horn has written for 
information respecting this mortgage to Commissary Walter, 
in your town. Is there anything to be made of him V 

" Not by money," answered the stranger thoughtfully ; 
" but possibly by other means. He does not know that I 
have been authorized by the Count's attorney to sell this 
mortgage. I shall go to him, as if on business of my own, 
and take some opportunity of praising the property." 

" But if he knows it himself, of what use is that ?" said 
Ehrenthal, shaking his head. 

" There will still be some use ; for, after all, these lawyers 
must trust to us traders for details. How can they know, 
as we do, how wool and grain sell on estates 1 At all events, 
we must do what we can." 

Ehrenthal sighed, " You can believe, Lowenberg, that it 
makes me anxious." 

" Come, come," said the other, " it will be a profitable 
concern. The buyer you have in view pays ninety per 
cent., and seventy is sent to the Count in Paris ; of the 
twenty per cent, remaining, you pay the Count's attorney 
five, and me five for my trouble, and you keep ten. Four 
thousand dollars is a pretty profit where no capital has been 
risked." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



141 



" But it makes me anxious," said Ehrenthal. " Believe 
me, Lowenberg, it excutes me so much that I cannot sleep 
at night ; and when my wife asks me, ' Are you asleep, 
Ehrenthal f I have always to say, ' I cannot sleep, Sidonie ; 
I must think of business.' " 

An hour later a carriage with four horses rolled away 
from the door. The following morning Commissary Walter 
received a business call from Lowenberg, and was con- 
vinced, by the cool, shrewd manner of the man, that the 
circumstances of the Count Zaminsky could not be so 
desperate as was commonly believed. 

Eight days after, the Baron received a letter from his 
legal adviser, containing a copy of one from Commissary 
Walter. These experienced lawyers both agreed in thinking 
that the mortgage in question was not positively undesir- 
able ; and when Ehrenthal next called, he found the Baron's 
mind made up to the purchase. The irresistible induce- 
ment was the making a few thousand dollars. He was 
resolved to think the mortgage good, and would perhaps 
have bought it even had his lawyer positively dissuaded 
him. 

Ehrenthal, having a journey to take to that part of the 
country, most unselfishly offered to complete the purchase 
for the Baron, who was pleased with this arrangement. 

In about a fortnight he received the deeds. All were 
weU contented with their share in the business, but Veitel 
Itzig with most reason ; for he had by it got a hold over 
his master, and was now friend and confidant in the most 
secret transactions. The Baron took out his richly-inlaid 
casket, and, in place of the fair white parchments, put 
in a thick, dirty bundle of deeds. Having done this, he 



142 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



joined the ladies, and gave a humorous account of Ehren- 
thal's bows and compliments. 

" I hate that man," said Lenore, 

" On this occasion he has behaved with a certain disin- 
terestedness," replied her father. " But there is no denying 
that people of his class have their absurdities of manner, 
and it is difficult to help laughing at them." 

That evening Ehrenthal was so cheerful in his family 
cu'cle, that his wife asked him whether he had settled the 
affair with the Baron. 

" I have," he gaily replied. 

" He is a handsome man," remarked the daughter. 

" He is a good man," rejoined Ehrenthal ; " but he has 
his weaknesses. He is one of those who require low bows 
and civil speeches, and pay others to think for them. There 
must be such people in the world, or what would become 
of people of oui' profession ?" 

About the same time Veitel was relating to his friend, 
the ex-advocate, the whole particulars of the affair. Hip- 
pus had taken off his spectacles, and sat on a corner of the 
four-cornered chest Mrs. Pinkus was pleased to call a sofa, 
looking like a sagacious elderly ape who despises the race of 
men, and bites his keeper when he can. He listened with 
critical interest to his pupil's narrative, and shook his head 
or smiled, according as he dissented or approved. 

When Veitel had done, Hippus cried, " Ehrenthal is a 
simpleton. He is up to nothing great ; he is always trying 
half-measures. If he goes on thus, the Baron will throw 
him overboard yet." 

" What more can he do ?" asked Veitel. 

" He must give him anxieties, — the anxieties of busi- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



143 



ness, extensive business, ceaseless activity, daily cares ; that's 
what the Baron could not stand. That class is accus- 
tomed to little work and much enjoyment. Everything is 
made easy to them from their childhood. There are few 
of them who may not be ruined by having some great 
care always boring at their brains. If Ehrenthal wishes to 
have the Baron in his power, he must entangle him in 
business." 

So said the advocate, and Veitel understood him, and 
looked with a mixture of respect and aversion at the ugly 
little imp gesticulating before him. At last Hippus took 
out the brandy bottle, and cried, " An extra glass to-day ! 
What I have just told you, you young gallows-bird, is 
worth more than a bottle of brandy." 



1 



U4 



DEBIT AND CUEDIT. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

• T AM eighteen years old to-day," said Karl to his father, 
who was sitting at home one Sunday morning, never 
weary of contemplating the handsome youth. 

" So you are," replied the father ; " there are eighteen 
tapers round the cake." 

" Therefore, father," Karl went on, " it is time that I 
should turn to something, and make some money. I will 
be a porter." 

" Make some money ! " repeated old Sturm, looking at 
his son in amazement. "Do I not make as much, 
and more than we want 1 Why, you are going to turn a 
miser ! " 

" I can't always hang to your apron," said Karl ; " and 
if you were to earn a thousand dollars, would that make an 
active useful man of me 1 Or, if I were to lose you, what 
would become of me ?" 

" You will lose me, boy," said the giant, nodding ; "in 
a few years, perhaps ; and then you may become what you 
like, so it be not a porter." 

" But why should T not be what you are ? Do not be 
unreasonable." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



145 



" You know nothing about the matter. Do not be 
covetous ; I cannot bear covetous people." 

" But, father, if I am not to be a porter, I must leani 
something^''' cried Karl. 

" Learn !" exclaimed his father; " how much learning 
have you not had stuffed into your little head already ! Two 
years at the infant school, four at the city school, two at 
the industrial. Why, you have had eight years' schooling ; 
and you know the different goods as well as a clerk ! Why, 
you are an insatiable youth." 

" Yes ; but I must have a calling," replied Karl. " I 
must be a shoemaker, tailor, shopkeeper, or mechanic." 

" Don't tease yourself about that," said his father ; " I 
have provided for all that in your education. You are 
practical and honourable too." 

" Yes ; but can I make a pair of boots 1 can I cut out a 
coat ?" 

" You can," replied old Sturm ; " try, and you'll suc- 
ceed." 

" Very well ; to-morrow I'll buy you some leather, and 
make you a pair of boots — you shall feel how they'll pinch. 
But, once for all, I can't go on as I am, and I'll set some 
one at you who will tell you the same." 

" Don't be covetous, Karl," said his father, " or spoil 
this day for me ; — give me the can of beer, and be a good 
boy." 

Karl placed the great can before his father, and soon 
took up his cap and went out. Old Sturm sat still awhile, 
but his comfort was destroyed, and the house seemed dull 
without his son's cheerful face. At length he went into 
the next room, and drew out a heavy iron chest from under 

K 



146 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



the bed. He opened it with a little key that he took out 
of his waistcoat pocket, lifted one bag of money after an- 
other — began a long mental calculation, then pushed the 
chest under the bed again, and returned to his can of beer 
with a calmer aspect. 

Meanwhile Karl had hurried off to the town, and soon 
made his appearance in Anton's apartment. After the 
kindly greeting on both sides, he began — 

" I am come, sir, to ask your advice as to what is to 
become of me ? I can make nothing of my father. He 
won't hear of my being a porter ; and if I speak of another 
calling, he comforts me with saying, that he shall not live 
long. A pretty comfort that ! Would you be so good as 
to speak to him about me 1 He has a high opinion of you, 
and knows that you are always kind to me." 

" That I will, gladly," replied Anton ; " but what do 
you think of becoming ?" 

It's all one to me," said Karl, " so that it's something 
regular. Here I turn my hand to all sorts of things, but 
that's different to regular work." 

The next Sunday Anton went to old Sturm's. The home 
of the head-porter was a small house near the river, distin- 
guished from those of his neighbours by its red-washed 
walls. Anton opened the low door, and wondered how the 
giant could possibly live in so small a space. It must have 
required constant patience and forbearance ; for had he ever 
drawn himself up to his full height, he would infallibly 
have carried off the roof. 

"I am delighted to see you in my house, sir," said 
Sturm, taking Anton's hand in his immense grasp as gently 
as he could. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



147 



" It is rather small for yon, Mr. Sturm," answered Anton, 
laughing. " I never thought you so large as I do now." 

" My father was still taller," was the complacent reply, 
" taller and broader. He was the chief of the porters, and 
the strongest man in the place ; and yet a small barrel, not 
half so high as you are, was the death of him. Be seated, 
sir," said he, lifting an oaken chair, so heavy that Anton 
could hardly move it. " My Karl has told me that he has 
been to see you, and that you were most kind ! He is a 
good boy, but he is a falling off as to size. His mother 
was a little woman," added Sturm mournfully, draining a 
quart of beer to the last drop. " It is draught beer," he 
said apologetically ; " may I offer you a glass ? It is a 
custom amongst us to drink no other, but certainly we 
drink this the whole day through, for oui* work is heat- 
ing." 

" Your son wishes to become one of your number, I 
hear," said Anton. 

" A porter !" rejoined the giant. " No, that he never 
shall." Then laying his hand confidentially on Anton's 
knee : "It would never do ; my dear departed wife be- 
sought me against it on her deathbed. And why ? Our 
calling is respectable, as you, sir, best know. There are not 
many who have the requisite strength, and still fewer who 
have the requisite " 

" Integrity," said Anton. 

" You are right," nodded Sturm. " Always to have wares 
of every kind in immense quantities under our eyes, and 
never to touch one of them, this is not in everybody's line. 
And our earnings are very fair too. My dear departed 
saved a good deal of money, gold as well as silver. But that 



148 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



is not my way. For why ? If a man be practical, he need 
not plague himself about money, and Karl will be a practical 
man. But he must not be a porter. His mother would 
not hear of it, and she was right." 

" Your work is very laborious," suggested Anton. 

" Laborious !" laughed Sturm ; " it may be laborious for 
the weak, but it is not that. It is this," and he filled 
his glass. "It is the draught-beer." 

Anton smiled. "I know that you and your colleagues 
drink a good deal of this thin stuff." 

" A good deal," said Sturm, with self-complacency ; " it 
is a custom of ours — it always has been so — porters must 
be strong men, true men, and beer-drinkers ! Water would 
weaken us, so would brandy ; there is nothing for it but 
draught-beer and olive oil. Look here, sir," said he, 
mixing a smaU glassful of fine oil and beer, stirring plenty 
of sugar into it, and drinking off the nauseous compound, 
" this is a secret of ours, and makes an arm like this" — 
and he laid his on the table, and vainly endeavoured to span 
it. " But there is a drawback. Have you ever seen an old 
porter ? No ; for there are none. Fifty is the greatest age 
they have ever reached. ]\Iy father was fifty when he died, 
and the one we lately buried — Mr. Schroter was at the 
funeral — was forty-nine. I have still two years before me, 
however." 

Anton looked at him anxiously. " But, Sturm, since 
you know this, why not be more moderate '?" 

"Moderate!" asked Sturm; "what is moderate? It 
never gets into our heads. Twenty quarts a day is not 
much if you know nothing of it. However, ]\Ir. Wohl- 
fart, it is on this account that my dear departed did not 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



U9 



choose that Karl should be a porter. As for that, few men 
do live to be much more than fifty, and they have all sorts 
of ailments that we know nothing about. But such were 
my wife's wishes, and so it must be." 

" And have you thought of any other calling 1 True, 
Karl is veiy useful in our house, and we should all miss 
liim much." 

" There it is," interrupted the porter ; " you would miss 
him, and so should I. I am alone here ; when I see my little 
lad's red cheeks, and hear his little hammer, I feel my heart 
glad within^ me. When he goes away, and I sit here by 
myself, I know not how I shall bear it." And his features 
worked with strong emotion. 

" But must he leave you at present ?" inquired Anton ; 
" perhaps he may remain on for another year." 

" Not he, I know him ; if he once thinks of a thing at 
all, he thinks of nothing else. And besides, I have been 
considering the matter these last days, and I see I have 
been wrong. The boy did not come into the world 
merely to amuse me. He must turn to something or 
other. So I try to think of what my dear departed would 
have liked. She had a brother, who is my brother-in- 
law you know, and who lives in the country ; I should like 
my boy to go to him. It is far away, but then there's 
kinship." 

" A good thought, Sturm ; but since you are resolved, keep 
your son no longer in uncertainty." 

" He shall know at once ; he is only in the garden." 
And he went and called himx in stentorian tones. 

Karl hastened in, greeted Anton, and looked expectantly 
first at him and then at his father, who had seated himself, 



150 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



and now inqnired, in his usual voice, " Little mannikin, 
will you be a farmer ?" 

" A farmer ! that never occurred to me. "^Vliy, I should 
have to leave you, father ! " 

" He thinks of that," said the father, nodding his head 
to Anton. 

" Do you then wish that I should leave you ?" asked Karl 
in amazement. 

" I must, my little man," said Sturm gravely ; " I must 
wish it, because it is necessary for your dear departed 
mother's sake." 

" I am to go to my uncle ! " cried Karl. 

" Exactly so," said his father ; "it's all settled, pro- 
vided your uncle will have you. You shall be a farmer, 
you shall learn something regular, you shall leave your 
father." 

" Father," said Karl, much downcast, " I do not like 
leaving you. Can't you come with me to the country 

"/ go to the country! Ho, ho, ho !" Sturm laughed till 
the house shook again. " My mannikin would put me 
into his pocket, and take me to the country." Then 
wiping his eyes : " Come here, my Karl," said he, holding 
the youth's head between his two great hands ; " you are 
my own good lad ; but there must be partings on this earth, 
and if it were not now, it would be in a couple of years." 

And thus Karl's departure from the firm was arranged. 

As the time drew near, he tried in vain to conceal his 
emotion, by a great deal of cheerful whistling. He stroked 
Pluto tenderly, executed all his various odd jobs with intense 
zeal, and kept as close as he could to his father, who often 
left his barrels to place his hand in silence on his son's head. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



151 



" Nothing heavy in farming ! " said the paternal Sturm 
to Anton, looking anxiously into his face. 

" Heavy ! " replied Anton ; " it will be no light matter 
to learn all connected with it." 

" Learn ! " cried the other ; " the more he has to learn 
the better, so it be not very heavy." 

" No," said Pix, who understood his meaning. " No- 
thing heavy. The heaviest are sacks of corn — hundred and 
eighty. Beans — two hundred pounds. And those he need 
not lift, — the servants do it." 

" If that's the case with farming," cried Sturm, con- 
temptuously rearing himself to his fuU height, " it's all one 
to me whether he lifts them or not. Even my mannikin 
can carry two hundred pounds." 



152 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



NTON was now the most assiduous of all the clerks in the 



office. Fink was seldom able to persuade him to ac- 
company him out riding or to the shooting gallery, but, on 
the other hand, he made diligent use of his friend's book- 
shelves, and having, after arduous study, gained some insight 
into the mysteries of the English language, he was anxious 
to exercise his conversational powers upon Fink. But the 
latter proving a most irregular and careless master, Anton 
thought it best to put himself in the hands of a well-edu- 
cated Englishman. 

One day looking up from his desk, as the door opened, 
he saw to his amazement, Veitel Itzig, his old Ostrau 
schoolfellow. Hitherto they had but seldom met, and 
whenever they did so, Anton had taken pains to look 
another way. 

" How are you getting on ?" asked he coldly enough. 

" Poorly," was the reply ; " there is nothing to be made 
in our business. I was to give you this letter, and to 
inquire when Mr. Bernhard Ehrenthal may call upon 
you." 

" Upon me ! " said Anton, taking the letter and a card 
with it. 




DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



153 



The letter was from his English master, asking whether 
he would join young Elirenthal in a systematic course of 
some of the older English writers ? 

" Where does Mr. Bemhard Ehrenthal live ? " asked 
Anton. 

" At his father's," said Itzig, making a face. " He sits 
in his own room all the day long." 

" I will call upon him," rejoined Anton, and Itzig took 
his departure. 

Anton was not much inclined to agree to the proposal. 
The name of Ehrenthal did not stand high, and Itzig's 
appearance had not conferred any pleasant associations upon 
it. But the ironical way in which he had mentioned his 
master's son, and something Anton had heard of him be- 
sides, determined him to take the matter at least into con- 
sideration. 

Accordingly, one of the next days he mounted the dingy 
staircase, and was at once ushered into Bemhard's room, 
which was long and narrow, and filled with books great 
and small. 

A young man came towards him with the uncertainty of 
manner that short-sight gives. He had fine features, a 
fragile frame, brown curling hair, and deep expressive grey 
eyes. Anton mentioned the reason of his visit, and in- 
quired the terms for the course. To his astonishment 
young Ehrenthal did not know them, but said, that if 
Anton insisted upon sharing the expense, he would inquire. 
Our hero next asked whether Bemhard was in business 
with his father. 

" no ! " was the reply ; " I have been at the Univer- 
sity, and as it is not easy for a young man of my creed to 



154 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



get a Government appointment, and I can live with my 
family, I occupy myself with my books." And casting a 
loving glance at his book-shelves, he rose as if to introduce 
his guest to them. 

Anton looked at their titles, and said, "They are too 
learned for me." 

Bernhard smiled. " Through the Hebrew I have gone 
on to the other Asiatic languages. There is much beauty 
in them, and in their old-world legends. I am now engaged 
upon a translation from the Persian, and some day or other, 
when you have a few idle minutes, I should like to inflict 
a short specimen upon you." 

Anton had the politeness to beg to hear it at once. It 
was one of those countless poems in which a votary of the 
grape compares his beloved to all fair things in heaven and 
earth. Its complicated structure impressed Anton a good 
deal, but he was somewhat amazed at Bernhard exclaiming, 
" Beautiful ! is it not 1 I mean the thought, for I am unable 
to give the beauty of language ;" and he looked inspired, 
like a man who drinks Schiraz wine, and kisses his Zuleika 
all day long. 

" But must one drink in order to love ? " said Anton ; 
" with us the one is very possible without the other." 

" With us, life is very commonplace." 

"I do not think so," Anton replied with fervour. "We 
have the sunshine and the roses, the joy in existence, the 
great passions and strange destinies of which poets sing." 

" Our present time is too cold and uniform," rejoined 
Bernhard. 

" So I read in books, but I do not believe it. I think 
that whoever is discontented with our life, would be so 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



155 



still more with life in Teheran or Calcutta, if he remained 
there long enough. It is only novelty that charms the 
traveller." 

" But how poor in vivid sensations our civilized existence 
is," rejoined Bernhard. " I am sure you must often feel 
business veiy prosaic." 

" That I deny," was the eager reply ; " I know nothing 
so interesting as business. We live amidst a many-coloured 
web of countless threads, stretching across land and sea, and 
connecting man with man. When I place a sack of coffee 
in the scales, I am weaving an invisible link between the 
colonist's daughter in Brazil, who has plucked the beans, 
and the yoimg mechanic who drinks it for his breakfast ; 
and if I take up a stick of cinnamon, I seem to see, on one 
side, the Malay who has rolled it up, and, on the other, the 
old woman of our suburb who grates it over her pudding." 

" You have a lively imagination, and are happy in the 
utility of your calling. But if we seek for poetry, we must, 
like Byron, quit civilized countries to find it on the sea or 
in the desert." 

" iN'ot so," replied Anton pertinaciously ; " the merchant 
has just as poetical experiences as any pirate or Arab. There 
was a bankruptcy lately. Could you have witnessed the 
gloomy lull before the storm broke, the fearfid despair of 
the husband, the high spirit of his wife, who insisted upon 
throwing in her own fortune to the last dollar to save his 
honour, you would not say that our calling is poor in 
passion or emotion." 

Benihard listened with downcast eyes, and Anton re- 
marked that he seemed embarrassed and distressed. 

Changing the conversation, he proposed that they should 



156 



DEBIT AI^D CREDIT. 



both walk together to the English master, and make the 
final arrangements. They left the house like two old ac- 
quaintances ; Anton surprised that Ehrenthal's son should 
be so little of a trader, Bernhard delighted to find a man 
with whom he could discuss his favourite subjects. 

That evening he joined the family circle in a cheerful 
mood, and placing himself behind his sister, who was prac- 
tising a difiicult piece on a costly piano, he kissed her ear. 
" Do not disturb me, Bernhard," said she ; " I must get 
this piece perfect for the large party on Sunday, when I 
shall be asked to play." 

" Of course you will be asked," said her mother. " There 
is no company that does not wish to hear Kosalie play. If 
you could only be persuaded to come vath us, Bernhard — 
you are so clever and so learned. It was but the other 
day that Professor Starke of the University spoke of you 
to me in the highest terms. It is so pleasant for a mother 
to feel proud of her children. Why will you not join us? — 
the society will be as good as any in the town." 

" You know, mother, that I am not fond of strangers." 

" And I desire that my son Bernhard should have his 
own way," cried Ehrenthal from a neighbouring room, hav- 
ing chanced, during a pause in Rosalie's practice, to hear 
the last sentence, and now joining his family : " our Bern- 
hard is not like other people, and his way is sure to be a 
good one. You look pale, my son," stroking his brown 
curls ; " you study too much. Think of your health. The 
doctor recommended exercise. WiU you have a horse, my 
son Bernhard ? I will get the most expensive horse in the 
town for you if you like." 

" Thank you, dear father; but it would give me no plear 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



157 



sure," and he gratefully pressed the hand of his father, who 
looked sorrowfully at his pale face. 

"Do you always give Bernhard what he likes to eat 
Get him some peaches, Sidonie ; there are hot-house peaches 
to be had. You shall have anything you like ; you are my 
good son Bernhard, and my delight is in you." 

" He will not have anything of the kind," interposed his 
mother. " All his joy is in his books. Many a day he 
never asks for Rosalie and me. He reads too much, and 
that's why he looks like a man of sixty. Why will he not 
go with us on Sunday "? " 

" I will, if you like," said Bernhard mournfully ; adding 
soon after, " Do you know a young man of the name of 
Wohlfart, in Schroter's house 1 " 

" No," said his father decidedly. 

" Perhaps you do, Rosalie. He is handsome and refined- 
looking; I think you must have met him." 
" Hardly, if he is in an office." 

" Our Rosalie dances chiefly with officers and artists," 
explained her mother. 

"He is a clever and a delightful man," continued Bern- 
hard ; " I am going to study English with him, and rejoice 
to have made his acquaintance." 

" He shall be invited," decreed Ehrenthal ; " if he pleases 
our Bernhard, he shall be welcome to our house. Let us 
have a good dinner on Sunday, Sidonie, at two o'clock. He 
shall come to all our parties ; Bernhard's friend shall be 
the friend of us all." 

The mother gave her consent; and Rosalie began to 
ponder what dress she should wear, so as to make the 
greatest impression. 



158 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



But whence came it to pass that Bernhard did not com- 
municate to his family the subject of the conversation that 
had so much interested him? that he soon relapsed into 
silence, and returned to his study? that when there, he 
bowed his head over his old manuscripts, while large drops 
rolled down on them, erasing the much-prized characters 
unobserved? Whence came it that the young man, of 
whom his mother was so proud, whom his father so loved 
and honoured, sat alone, shedding the bitterest tears that 
an honest man can ? while in another part of the house, 
Rosalie's white fingers were flying over the keys, practising 
the difficult piece that was to astonish the next soiree. 
From that day dated a friendship betvv^een Anton and 
Bernhard, which was a source of pleasure and profit to 
both. Anton described the studious youth to the free and 
easy Fink, and expressed his wish to bring about a meeting 
between the two, by a tea-drinking in his rooms. 

"If it amuses you, Tony," said Fink, shrugging his 
shoulders, " I will come ; but I warn you that of all living 
characters I most dislike a book-worm. No one theorizes 
more presumptuously upon every possible subject, or makes 
a gi'eater fool of himself when it comes to practice. And, 
besides, a son of the worthy Ehrenthal ! Don't be angry 
if I soon run away." 

On the evening appointed, Bernhard sat on Anton's sofa 
in anxious expectation of the arrival of this well-known 
character, many wild anecdotes of whom had found their 
way even into his study. 

At first Anton feared that the two would never suit. 
Two greater contrasts could hardly be imagined ; the thin 
transparent hand of Bernhard, and the healthy muscular 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



159 



development of Fink ; the bent form of the one, the elastic 
strength of the other ; here, a deeply-lined face, with dreamy- 
eyes ; there, a proud set of features, lighted up by a glance 
like an eagle's — how could these possibly harmonize? But 
all turned out better than he had expected. Bernhard listened 
with much interest to what Fink had to say of foreign 
countries ; and Anton did all he could to turn the conver- 
sation to subjects likely to bring out Bernhard. 

The result was, that a few days later Bernhard found 
himself sitting in one of Fink's easy-chairs, and even ven- 
tured to invite him with Anton to spend an evening with 
him. Fink consented. 

And now arose great excitement in the Ehrenthal circle. 

Bernhard dusted his books and set them in order; and 
for the first time in his life troubled himself about house- 
hold matters. "We must have tea, supper, wine, and 
cigars," said he. 

" You need not be uneasy," replied his mother ; " Herr 
von Fink shall find everything well arranged." 

" I will buy you some of the very finest cigars, and see 
to the wine," added his father. 

As the hour drew near, Bernhard grew increasingly 
anxious, nay, irritable. "Where is the tea-kettle? The 
tea-kettle is not yet in my room ! Nothing is ready ! " cried 
he to his mother. 

" I will make the tea and send it in — that is the fashion- 
able way," replied his mother, rusthng up and down in a 
new silk. 

"No!" said Bernhard decidedly; "I will make the tea 
myself Anton makes it, and so does Von Fink." 

"Bernhard will make the tea himself !" cried the asto- 



160 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



nished mother to Rosalie. " Wonderful ! he will make 
his own tea ! " exclaimed Ehrenthal, who was in his room 
drawing on his boots. "He is going to make the tea!" 
cried the cook in the kitchen, clapping her hands in amaze- 
ment. 

On their way, Anton said to Fink, " It is very kind of 
you, Fritz, to come ; Bernhard will be delighted." 

" One must make sacrifices," replied Fink. " I have 
taken the liberty to eat my supper beforehand, for I have 
a horror of Jewish cookery. But the handsomest girl in 
town is worth a little effort. I saw her lately at a concert 
— a gorgeous figure, and such eyes ! The old usurer, her 
father, has never seen such diamonds pass through his hands." 

We are invited to see Bernhard," repHed Anton, some- 
what reproachfully. 

" And we shall certainly see his sister too," said Fink. 

" I hope not," thought Anton. 

Bernhard's room was wonderfully adorned for their re- 
ception, and he himself was a most pleasant host. The 
three were soon in full talk. Fink was in one of his most 
benevolent moods; and Anton mentally prayed that the 
beautiful sister might be kept out of sight. 

But, just as the clock struck nine, the door opened, 
and Madam Ehrenthal majestically crossed the threshold. 
"Bathsheba entering in to Solomon," whispered Fink to 
Anton, who angrily trod upon his foot in return. Bern- 
hard, in some embarrassment, introduced his mother, and 
she invited them all three to the next room, where Ehren- 
thal and the fair Rosalie awaited them. Fink soon fell 
into a lively discussion with her about music, for which in 
reality he little cared ; promised her an excellent place at 



DEBTT AND CREDIT. 



161 



the ensuing races; and told her and her mother satirical 
anecdotes of the best society, which, as they were excluded 
from it, they particularly enjoyed. A princess of celebrated 
beauty came under discussion. Fink, who had been intro- 
duced to her once upon a time, declared that the young 
lady now before him might be taken for her, except, indeed, 
that the princess was not quite so tall or so majestic-look- 
ing; and then he went into ecstacies over Mrs. Ehren- 
thal's mosaic brooch. The paternal Ehrenthal, however, 
tried in vain to keep up a conversation with him. Fink 
contrived not to appear aware of his presence, without, 
however, being in any way rude. Every one felt it to be in 
the nature of things ; and Ehrenthal himself humbly acted 
the part of nonentity assigned to him, and consoled himself 
by eating a whole pheasant. 

The supper lasted till midnight, and then Rosalie moved 
to the piano, after which Fink ran his fingers over the 
keys, and sang a wild Spanish song. "When at length 
the guests took their departure, the family remained per- 
fectly enraptured. Rosahe ran to the piano to try and 
remember the air Fink had sung ; her mother was full 
of his praises, and her father, spite of his temporary 
annihilation, was enchanted with the visit of the rich 
young heir, and kept repeating that he must be worth 
more than a million. Even Bernhard's ingenuous spirit 
was captivated by his manner and brilliant rattle. True, 
he had occasionally felt an uncomfortable misgiving, as 
though Fink might be making fun of them all ; but he 
was too inexperienced to feel sure of it, and soothed him- 
self by thinking that it was only the way of all men of the 
world. 

L 



162 



DEBIT AJ^D CREDIT. 



Anton alone was dissatisfied with his friend, and he told 
him so as they walked home. 

u Why, you sat there like a stock," replied Fink ; " I 
entertained the good people, and what more would you 
have? Change yourself into a mouse, creep into the 
decked-out room, and hear how they are singing my praises. 
What more can be wanted than that our behaviour to 
people should be what they themselves find pleasant?" 

" I think," said Anton, " that our aim should rather be 
to behave in a manner worthy of ourselves. You went on 
like a frivolous nobleman who meant to ask a loan from 
old Ehrenthal on the morrow." 

" I choose to be frivolous," cried Fink ; " and perhaps I 
may want a loan from the Ehrenthal house. And now 
have done with your preachments — it is past one o'clock." 

A few days later, Anton remembered, at the close of the 
office, that he had promised to send on a book to the young 
student. As Fink, who had gone out an hour before, had 
carried off his paletot, which indeed often happened, Anton 
wrapped himself in Fink's burnoose, which chanced to lie 
in his room, and hurried off to Ehrenthal's house. As he 
reached the door, he was not a little amazed to see it noise- 
lessly open, and a shawled and veiled figure come out. A 
soft arm wound itself round his, and a low voice said, 
" Come quickly, I have waited for you long." Anton re- 
cognised Rosalie's voice, and stood petrified. At length he 
said, " You are mistaken." With a suppressed scream the 
young lady rushed up stairs, and Anton, little less confused, 
entered his friend's room, where he had the shock of being 
at once addressed by the shortsighted Bernhard as Herr von 
Fink. A dreadful suspicion crossed his mind — and, pre- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



163 



tending to be in the utmost haste, he carried the luckless 
cloak home, over a heart full of grief and anger. If it were, 
indeed, Fink that Ehrenthal's fair daughter had been ex- 
pecting ! The longer Anton had to wait for his friend, the 
more angry he grew. At last he heard his step in the 
courtyard — ran down to meet him — told him the circum- 
stance — and ended by saying, " Look, I wore your cloak, 
it was dusk; and I have a horrible suspicion that she 
mistook me for you, and that you have most unjustifiably 
abused Bernhard's friendship." 

"Ah ha!" said Fink, shaking his head, "here we have a 
proof of how ready these virtuous ones are to throw a stone 
at others. You are a child ! There are other white cloaks 
in the town ; how can yuu prove that mine was the one 
waited for? And then allow me to remark, that you 
showed neither politeness nor presence of mind on the 
occasion. \\Tiy not have led the lady down stairs, and 
when the mistake became apparent, have said, ' It is true 
that I am not he you take me for, but I am equally ready 
to die in your service!' — and so forth?" 

"You don't deceive me," rejoined Anton; "when I 
think the matter over, I cannot, spite of your lies, shake off 
the belief that you were the one expected." 

" You cunning little fellow ! " said Fink good-humouredly, 
" confess, at least, that when a lady is in the case, I needs 
must lie. For seest thou, my son, to admit this were to 
compromise the fair daughter of an honourable house." 

"Alas!" said Anton, " I fear that she already feels her- 
self compromised." 

" Never mind," said Fink coolly, " she will bear it." 

" But Fritz," said Anton, wringing his hands, " have you 



164 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



then no sense of the wrong you are domg to Bernhard ? It 
is just because his pure heart beats in the midst of a family 
circle that he only endures because he is so trusting and inex- 
perienced, that this injury pains me so bitterly." 

" Therefore, you will do wisely to spare your friend's 
sensitiveness, and keep his sister's secret." 

"Not so!" replied Anton indignantly; "my duty to 
Bernhard leads me to a different course. I must demand 
from you that you break off your connexion with Rosalie, 
whatever its nature, and strive only to see in her what you 
always should have seen — the sister of my friend." 

"Really," returned Fink in a mocking tone, "I have 
no objection to your making this demand; but if I do not 
comply with it, how then? Always supposing, which by 
the way I deny, that I was the fortunate expected one." 

" If you do not," cried Anton in high excitement, " I 
can never forgive you. This is more than mere want of 
feeling : it is something worse." 

"And what, pray?" coldly asked Fink. 

"It is base!" cried Anton. "It is bad enough to take 
advantage of the young girl's coquetry, but worse to forget 
lier brother as well as me, through whom you made this 
unfortunate acquaintance." 

"Be so good as to hear me say," replied Fink, lighting 
the lamp of his tea-kettle, "that I never gave you any 
right to speak to me thus. I have no wish to quarrel with 
you, but I shall be much obliged to you henceforth to drop 
this subject." 

" Then I must leave you, for I can speak of nothing else 
while I have the conviction that you are acting unworthily." 
Anton moved to the door. " I give you your choice, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



165 



either you break with Rosalie, or, dreadful as it is to me 
to tliink of it, you break with me. If you do not by to- 
morrow evening give me an assurance that this intrigue is 
at an end, I go to Rosalie's mother." 

" Good-night, thou stupid Tony ! " said Fink. 

The following day was a grey one for both. 

It was Fink's constant custom, on entering the office, to 
beckon to his friend, whereupon Anton would leave his place, 
and exchange a few words as to how Fink had spent the pre- 
vious evening. But this morning Anton doggedly remained 
where he was, and bent down over his letters, when Fink took 
his seat opposite him. Whenever they looked up, they had 
to make as though empty space were before them, and not 
each other's faces. Fink had found it easy to treat the 
paternal Ehrenthal as a nonentity, but it was not so in 
this case ; and Anton, who had had no practice in the art 
of overlooking others, felt himself supremely uncomfort- 
able. Then everything conspired to make it peculiarly 
difficult to each to play his part. Schmeie Tinkeles, the 
unfortunate little Jew who spoke such execrable German, 
and whom Fink always found especial pleasure in badgering 
and beating down, made his appearance in the office, and 
as usual a laughable scene ensued. All the clerks watched 
Fink, and chimed in with him, but Anton had to behave as 
though Tinkeles were a hundred miles away. Then Mr. 
Schroter gave him a commission, which obliged him to ask 
Fink a question, and he had to cough hard to get out the 
words at all. He received a very short answer, which in- 
creased his anger. Finally, when the dinner hour struck, 
Fink, who used regularly to wait till Anton came for him, 
walked off with Jordan, who wondered what could keep 



166 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Wohlfart, to which Fink could only reply, that he neither 
knew nor cared. 

During the afternoon Anton could not avoid a few fur- 
tive glances at the haughty face oiDposite him. He thought 
how dreadful it would be to become estranged from one he 
so dearly loved ; but his resolve was firm as ever. And so 
it happened that Fink, chancing to look up, met his friend's 
eyes mournfully fixed upon his face ; and this touched him 
more than the anger of the previous night. He saw that 
Anton's mind was made up, and the side of the scale in 
which sat the fair Rosalie kicked the beam. After all, 
if Anton did, in his virtuous simplicity, tell her mother, 
the adventure was spoiled, and, still worse, their friendship 
for ever at an end. These reflections furrowed his fine brow. 

A little before seven o'clock a shadow fell on Anton's 
paper, and, looking up, he saw Fink silently holding out a 
small note to him, directed to Rosalie. He sprang up at 
once. 

" I have wiitten to tell her," said Fink, with icy cold- 
ness, " that your friendship left me no other choice than 
that of compromising her, or giving her up ; and that, 
therefore, I chose the latter. Here is the letter, I have 
no objection to your reading it ; it is her dismissal." 

Anton took the letter out of the culprit's hand, sealed it 
in all haste with a little office seal, and gave it to one of 
the porters to post at once. 

And so this danger was averted, but from that day there 
was an estrangement between the friends. Fink grumbled, 
and Anton could not forget what he called treachery to 
Bernhard ; and so it was, that for some weeks they no 
longer spent their evenings together. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



167 



CHAPTER XV. 



T^HE firm of T. 0. Schroter had one day in the year m- 
variably dedicated to enjoyment. It was the anniver- 
sary of their principal's first entrance into partnership with 
his father. Upon this festive occasion there was a dinner 
given to the whole counting-house assembled, after which 
they all drove to a neighbouring village, where the merchant 
had a country house, and whither a number of public gardens 
and summer concerts always attracted the inhabitants of 
the town. There they drank cofi'ee, enjoyed nature, and 
returned home before dark. 

This year was the five-and-twentieth of these jubilees. 
Early in the morning came deputations of servants and 
porters to congratulate, and all the clerks appeared at the 
early dinner in full state ; M. Liebold in a new coat, 
which, for many years past, he had been in the habit of 
first wearing upon this auspicious day. 

After dinner, the carriages drove up and took them to 
the great " Restauration" of the village. There they got 
out, the gentlemen all surrounding their young lady, and 
loud music sounding a welcome as they entered the beechen 
avenues of the garden, which was bright to-day with gay 
toilettes from the town. 



168 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Sabine floated on with a perfect nebula of gentlemen 
around her. Possibly this court would have given more 
pleasure to most other w^omen, but at aU events the effect 
was very striking. The gentle Liebold's face wore a con- 
tinual smile of delight which he was obhged to suppress, 
as well as he could, from the fear of being supposed to 
laugh at the passers by ; Sabine's shawl hung on his arm. 
Specht had, by a bold coup-de-main, possessed himself of 
her parasol, and walked on hoping that some falling blos- 
som, some passing butterfly, might afi'ord him a pretext for 
beginning a conversation with her. But this was no easy 
matter, for Fink was on the other side. He was in one of 
his most malevolent moods, and Sabine could not help 
laughing against her will at his unmerciful comments upon 
many of the company. And so they walked on amongst the 
tripping, rustling crowd of pleasure-seekers. There was a 
constant bowing, smiling, and greeting ; the merchant had 
each moment to take off his hat, and, whenever he did so, 
the fourteen clerks took off theirs too, and created quite a 
draught ; and very imposing it was. After having swam 
thus with the stream for some time, Sabine expressed a 
wish to rest. Instantly benches were set, the table got 
ready, and an ubiquitous waiter brought a giant coffee-pot 
and the number of cups required. Sabine's office was no 
sinecure. She chose Anton for her adjutant, and it was a 
pretty sight to see how kindly she gave each one his cup, 
how watchful she was lest the sugar-bowl and the cream- 
jug should be interrupted in their rounds, and at the same 
time how she contrived to bow to her passing acquaintance, 
and to carry on a conversation with any friends of her 
brother's who came up to her. She was very lovely thus. 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



169 



Anton and Fink both felt how well her serene activity 
became her, and Fink said, " If this be for you a day of 
recreation, I do not envy your other days. No princess 
has such a reception, so many to bow, smile, and speak to 
as you ; but you get on capitally, and have no doubt 
studied it. Now comes the mayor himself to pay his com- 
pliments. I am really sorry for you ; you have to lend me 
your ear ; Liebold's cup is in your hand, and your eyes 
must be reverentially fixed upon the great civic official. I 
am curious to know whether you understand my words." 

" Take your spoon out of your cup, and I will fill it 
immediately," said Sabine, laughing, as she rose to greet 
her old acquaintance. Meanwhile, Anton amused himself 
by listening to the remarks made on his party by the 
passers-by. " That is Herr von Fink," whispered a young 
lady to her companion. " A pretty face ; a capital figure," 
drawled a Ueutenant. "What is one among so many?" 
muttered another idler. " Hush, those are the Schroters," 
said a clerk to his brother. Then two tall handsome forms 
came slowly by — Dame Ehrenthal and Rosalie. Rosalie 
passed next to the table : a deep flush suffused her face. 
She threw a troubled glance at Fink, who, in spite of 
the lively conversation he was carrying on with Sabine, 
had eyes for everything that was going on. Anton rose 
to bow; and the imperturbable Fink coolly took off his 
hat, and looked at the two ladies, with as much uncon- 
cern as though he had never admired the bracelets on 
Rosalie's white arm. Anton's bow, Rosalie's striking 
beauty, and, perhaps, some peculiarity in their dress, had 
attracted Sabine's attention. 

Ehrenthal's daughter did not heed the bow, but fixed 



170 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



her dark eyes on Sabine, wliom she took for her fortunate 
rival, with such a flashing glance of anger and hatred, that 
Sabine shrank as though to avoid the spring of a beast of 
prey. 

Fink's lip curled, and he slightly shrugged his shoulders. 
When the ladies had passed by, Sabine asked who they 
were. 

<' Some acquaintance of Anton's," said he satirically. 

Anton named them as the mother and sister of the young 
student of whom he had lately told her. 

Sabine was silent, and leant back on the bench ; her gay 
spirits were over. The conversation flagged; and v\dien 
her brother returned from a visit to the next table, she rose 
and invited the party to come and see her garden. Again 
the nebula followed her, but Fink was no longer at her 
side. That burning glance had withered the green tendrils 
that had been drawing them together. Sabine turned to 
Anton, and tried to be cheerful, but he saw the effort it 
cost her. 

This large garden, with its hot-houses and conservatories, 
was one of Sabine's favourite resorts, both in summer and 
winter, ^^^lile the merchant carried off Fink to look at a 
plot of neighbouring ground which he thought of buying, 
the clerks besieged Sabine with questions as to the names 
and peculiarities of the different plants. She showed them 
a great palm-tree that her brother had given her, tropical 
ferns, gorgeous cactuses, and told them that she often drank 
coffee under these large leaves on sunny winter days. Just 
then the gardener came up to her with crumbs of bread 
and bird-seed on a plate. " Evea when I have not so large 
a party with me as to-day, I am not quite alone," said she. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



171 



" Pray let us see your birds," cried Anton. 

" You must go out of sight then, and keep quite still. 
The little creatures know me, but so many gentlemen would 
terrify them." 

Sabine then went out a few steps, scattered the crumbs 
on the gravel, and clapped her hands. A loud chirping 
instantly succeeded, and numbers of birds shot down, hop- 
ping boldly about, and picking up the crumbs close to her 
feet. They were not a very distinguished company — finches, 
linnets, and a whole nation of sparrows. Sabine gently 
stepped back to the door, and said, " Can you see any 
difference among these sparrows ? They have, I assure you, 
individualities of dress and character. Several of them are 
personal acquaintance of mine." She pointed to a large 
sparrow with a black head and a bright brown back. " Do 
you see that stout gentleman V 

" He is the largest of them all," said Anton, with delight. 

"He is my oldest acquaintance, and it is my dmners 
that have made him so fat. He moves about amongst the 
others like a rich banker. Only hear him ! His very chirp 
has in it something aristocratic and supercilious ! He looks 
upon this crumb-scattering as a duty society owes him, and 
determines generously to leave for the others all he cannot 
eat up himself. But I think I see a tuft on his little 
breast." 

"A loose feather?" whispered Specht. 

" Yes," continued Sabine ; "I much fear his wife has 
pulled it out. For, important as he seems, he is under 
petticoat government. That grey little lady yonder, the 
lightest of them all, is his wife. Now look, they are 
going to quarrel." And a great contest began for an 



172 



DEBIT AXD CREDIT. 



especially large cnimb, in which all the birds manifested a 
strong disUke to the banker, and the wife came off victorious. 

" And now, do look !" cried Sabine joyfully; " here comes 
my Httle one, my pet; and down plumped a young spar- 
row, with helpless outspread wings, and fluttered up to the 
maternal bird, who hacked the large crumb into little bits, 
and put them into its wide-opened beak, Avhile the father 
hopped up and down, at a little distance, looking with a 
certain misgiving at his energetic better-half. 

" What a pretty sight ! " cried Anton. 

"Is it not?" said Sabine. "Even these little creatures 
have characters and a family-life." 

But the scene was suddenly changed ; a quick step came 
round the hot-house ; the birds flew away, and the mother 
called piteously to her child to follow. But the little thing, 
heavy and stupified with all it had eaten, could not so 
quickly lift its weak wings. A cut from Fink's riding-whip 
caught him, and sent its little body dead amongst the 
flowers. An angry exclamation arose, and all faces looked 
darkly on the murderer. As for Sabine, she went to the 
bed, picked up the bird, kissed its little head, and said in a 
broken voice, "It is dead." Then she put it down on the 
bench near the door, and covered it with her handkerchief. 

An awkward silence ensued. At length, Jordan said 
reproachfully, "You have killed ]VIiss Sabine's favourite 
bird." 

" I am sorry for it," replied Fink, drawing a chair to 
the table. Then turning to Sabine, " I did not know that 
you extended your sympathy to this class of rogues. I 
really believed that I deserved the thanks of the house for 
disposing of the young thief" 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



173 



"The poor little fellow," said Sabine mournfully; "his 
mother is calling for him; do you hear her?" 

" She will get over it," rejoined Fink ; "I consider it 
overdone to expend more feeling upon a sparrow than 
his own relatives do. But I know you like to consider all 
around you in a tender and pathetic light." 

" If you have not this peculiarity yourself, why ridicule 
it in others?" asked Sabine with a quivering lip. 

" Why," cried Fink, " because this eternal feeling, 
which here I meet with everywhere, expended on what 
does not deserve it, makes people at length weak and tri- 
vial. He who is always getting up emotions about trifles, 
will have none to give when a strong attachment demands 
them." 

" And he who ever looks on all around hun with cold 
unconcern, will not he too be wanting in emotion when a 
strong attachment becomes a duty?" returned Sabine with 
a mournful glance. 

"It would be impolite to contradict you," said Fink, 
shrugging his shoulders. " At all events, it is better that a 
man should be too hard than too effeminate." 

" But just look at the people of this country," said he, 
after another uncomfortable pause. " One loves the copper 
kettle in which his mother has boiled sausages ; another loves 
his broken pipe, his faded coat, and with these a thousand 
obsolete customs. Just look at the German emigrants ! 
What a heap of rubbish they take away with them ; old bird- 
cages, worm-eaten furniture, and every kind of lumber I 
I once knew a fellow who took a journey of eight days 
merely to eat sauer-kraut. And when once a poor devil 
has squatted in an unhealthy district, and lived there a few 



174 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



years, he has spun such a web of sentimentalism about it, 
that you cannot stir him, even though he, his wife and 
children, should die there of fever. Commend me to what 
you call the insensibility of the Yankee. He works like 
two Germans ; but he is not in love with his cottage or his 
gear. What he has is worth its equivalent in dollars, and 
no more. ' How low ! how material ! ' you will say. Now, 
I like this. It has created a free and powerful state. If 
America had been peopled by Germans, they would be still 
drinking chicory instead of coffee, at whatever rate of duty 
the paternal governments of Europe liked to impose." 

" And you would require a woman to be thus minded ?" 
asked Sabine. 

" In the main, yes," rejoined Fink. " Not a German house- 
wife, wrapped up in her table-linen. The larger her stock, 
the happier she. I believe that they silently rate each 
other as we do men on 'Change — -worth five hundred, worth 
eight hundred napkins. The American makes as good a 
wife as the German ; but she would laugh at such notions. 
She has what she wants for present use, and buys more 
when the old set is worn out. Why should she fix her 
heart on what is so easily replaced ?" 

" Oh, how dreary you make life !" rejoined Sabine. " Our 
possessions lose thus their dearest value. If you kill the 
imagination which lends its varied hues to lifeless things, what 
remains ? Nothing but an egotism to which everything is 
sacrificed ! He who can thus coldly think, may do great 
deeds perhaps, but his life will never be beautiful nor happy, 
nor a blessing to others ;" and unconsciously she folded her 
hands and looked sadly at Fink, whose face wore a hard 
and disdainful expression. 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



175 



The silence was broken by Anton's cheerfully observing : 
"At all events, Fink's own practice is a striking refutation 
of his theory." 

" How so, sir?" asked Fink, looking round. 

" I shall soon prove my case ; but first a few words 
in our own praise. We who are sitting and standing 
around, are working members of a business that does not 
belong to us ; and each of us looks upon his occupation 
from the German point of view which Fink has been de- 
nouncing. None of us reasons, ' The firm pays me so many 
dollars, consequently the firm is worth so many dollars to 
me.' No, when the house prospers we are all pleased and 
proud ; if it loses, we regret it perhaps more than the princi- 
pal does. When Liebold enters his figures in the great book, 
and admires their fair caligraphical procession, he silently 
smiles with delight. — Look at him, he is doing so now." 

Liebold, much emban-assed, pulled up his shirt-collar. 

" Then there is our friend Baumann who secretly longs 
for another calling. A short time ago, he brought me a re- 
port of the horrors of heathenism on the African coast, and 
said, ' I must go, Wohlfart, the time is come.' ' Who 
will attend to the calculations ? ' asked I ; '■ and what will 
become of the department which you and Balbus keep 
so entirely in your own hands?' 'Ay, indeed,' cried 
Baumann, ' I had not thought of that, I must put it off" a 
little longer.' " 

The whole party looked smilingly at Baimiann, who said, 
as if to himself, " It was not right of me." 

" As for the tjTant Pix, I will only say that there are 
many hours in which he is not quite clear as to whether the 
concern is his or Schroter's." 



176 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



All laughed. Mr. Pix tlirast his hand into his breast, 
like Napoleon. 

" You are an unfair advocate," said Fink, " you enlist 
private feelings." 

" You did the same," replied Anton. " And now I will 
soon dispose of you. About half a year ago, this Yankee 
went to our principal and said, ' I wish no longer to be a 
volunteer, but a regular member of your house.' Why was 
this 1 Of course only for the sake of a certain number of 
dollars ! " 

Again all smiled and looked kindly at Fink, for it was 
well known that he had said on that occasion, " I wish for 
a regular share of employment, I wish for the responsibihty 
attached to it, and I thoroughly like my work." 

" And then," contined Anton triumphantly, " he shares 
all the weak sentimentalities he so condemns. He loves 
his horse, as you all know, not as the sum of five hundred 
dollars 'represented by so many hundredweight of flesh, and 
covered by a glossy skin. He loves it as a friend." 

" Because he amuses me," said Fink. 

" Of course," said Anton ; " and thus table-linen amuses 
our housewives, so that is even. And then his pair of 
condor-wings, his pistols, riding-whips, red drinking-glasses, 
are all trifles that he values, just as a German emigrant 
does his bird-cages. And, in short, he is, in point of fact, 
nothing more than a poor-spirited German like the rest of us." 

Sabine shook her head, but she looked more kindly at 
the American, and his face too had changed. He looked 
straight before him, and there was a something playing over 
his haughty features that, in any one else, would have been 
called emotion. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



177 



" Well," said he at length, " both the lady and I were 
perhaps too positive. Then pointing to the dead sparrow, 
" Before this serious fact I lay down my arms, and confess 
that I wish the little gentleman were still alive, and likely 
to reach a good old age amongst the cherries and other deli- 
cacies of the firm. And so," turning to Sabine, " you 
will not be angry with me any more, will you ?" 

Sabine smiled, and cordially answered " No." 

" As for you, Anton, give me your hand. You have 
made a brilliant defence, and gained me a verdict of ' Not 
guilty,' from a German jury. Take your pen and scratch 
out a few weeks from our calendar ; you understand ?" Anton 
pressed his hand, and threw his arm around his shoulder. 

Once more the party was in a thoroughly genial mood. 
Mr. Schroter joined them, cigars were lit, and all tried to be 
as pleasant as possible. ?<Ir. Liebold rose to ask permis- 
sion from the principal and his sister — that is, if it would 
not be considered an interruption — to sing a few concerted 
pieces with some of his colleagues. As he had for several 
years regularly made the same proposition, in the same 
words, all were prepared for it, and Sabine good-naturedly 
cried, " Of course, Mr. Liebold, half the pleasure would be 
gone if we had not our quartett." Accordingly the four 
singers began. Mr. Specht v/as the first tenor, Liebold the 
second, Birnbaum and Balbus took the bass. These formed 
the musical section of the counting-house, and their voices 
went really very well together, with the exception of Specht' s 
being rather too loud, and Liebold's rather too low ; but their 
audience was well-disposed, the evening exquisite, and all 
listened with pleasure. 

" It's an absurd thing," began Fink, when the applause 

M 



178 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



was over, "that a certain sequence of tones should touch 
the heart, and call forth tears from men in whom all other 
gentle emotions are dead and gone. Every nation has its 
own simple airs ; and fellow-countrymen recognise each 
other by the impression these make. When those emigrants 
of whom we spoke just now, have lost all love for their 
fatherland, nay, have forgotten their mother tongue, their 
home melodies still survive ; and many a foolish fellow, who 
piques himself on being a naturalized Yankee, suddenly feels 
himself German at heart, on chancing to hear a couple of 
bars familiar to him in youth." 

" You are right," said the merchant. " He who leaves 
his home is seldom aware of all that he relinquishes, and 
only finds it out when home recollections become the charm 
of his later years. Such recollections often form a sanctuary, 
mocked and dishonoured indeed, but always revisited in his 
best hours." 

" I confess, with a certain degree of shame," said Fink, 
" that I am little conscious of this charm. The fact is, I 
do not exactly know where my home is. Looking back, I 
find that I have lived most of my years in Germany, but 
foreign countries have left a livelier imi^ression on my mind. 
Destiny has always torn me away before I could take deep 
root anywhere. And now at times I find myself a stranger 
here. For example, the dialects of the provinces are unin- 
telligible to me. I get more presents than I deserve on 
Christmas-day, but am not touched by the magic of the 
Christmas tree ; and few of the popular melodies you are 
all so proud of, haunt my ear. And, besides these smaller 
matters, there are other things in which I feel deficient," 
continued he, more earnestly ; " I know that at times, I 



DEBIT AND CREDIT, 



179 



make too heavy demands upon the indulgence of my friends. 
I shall have to thank your house/' said he, in conclusion, 
turning to the merchant, " if I ever acquire a knowledge of 
the best side of the German character." 

Fink spoke with a degree of feeling he rarely showed. 
Sabine was happy — the sparrow was forgotten ; and she 
cried, with irrepressible emotion — " That was nobly said, 
Hen- von Fink." 

The servants then announced that supper was ready. 

The merchant took his place in the middle, and Sabine 
smiled brightly when Fink sat down at her side. 

" I must have you opposite me, Liebold," cried the 
principal ; " I must see your honest face before me to-day. 
We have now been connected for five-and-twenty years. 
Mr. Liebold joined us a few weeks after my father took me 
into partnership," said he, by way of explanation to the 
younger clerks ; " and while I am indebted to you all, I 
am most indebted to him." He held up his glass : ''1 
drink your good health, my old friend ; and so long as our 
desks stand side by side, separated only by a thin partition, 
so long shall there exist between us, as heretofore, a full 
and firm confidence, without many spoken words." 

Liebold had stood at the beginning of this speech, and 
he remained standing. He wished to propose a health, 
it was evident, for he looked at the principal, held up 
his glass, and his lips moved. At last he sat down again, 
speechless. Straightway, to the amazement of all, Fink 
rose, and said, with deep earnestness, " Join me in drinking 
to the prosperity of a German house, where work is a 
pleasure, and honour has its home. Hurrah for our count- 
ing-house, and our principal ! " 



180 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Thundering hurrahs followed, in which Sabine could 
not help joining. The rest of the evening- was unbroken 
hilarity, and it was long past ten when they reached the 
town. 

As they went up stairs. Fink said to Anton, " To-day, 
rny boy, you are not to pass me by. I have found it a 
great bore to be so long without you ; " and the reconciled 
friends sat together far into the night. 

Sabine went to her own room, where her maid gave her 
a note in an unknown handwriting. The smell of musk, 
and the delicate characters, showed it came from a lady. 

" Who brought it ? " inquired she. 

" A stranger," replied the maid ; " he said that there 
was no answer, and would not give his name." 

Sabine read, " Do not triumph too soon, fair lady. You 
have by your coquetry allured a gentleman who is accus- 
tomed to mislead, to forget, and shamefully to use those 
who trust him. A short time ago he said to another all 
he now says to you. He will but betray and forsake you 
also." 

The note was not signed — it came from Rosalie. 

Sabine knew well who had written it. She held it to 
the taper, and then flinging it on the hearth, silently 
watched spark by spark die out. Long did she stand 
there, her head against the mantel-piece, her eyes fixed upon 
the little heap of ashes. 

Tearless, voiceless, she held her hand pressed firmly on 
her heart. 



1 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



181 



CHAPTER XVI. 



EITEL ITZIG was in the highest excitement. After 



many consultations with his adviser Hippus, many- 
nightly calculations as to the state of his purse, he had ven- 
tured upon a hold stroke of business, and had succeeded in 
it. He had wormed himself into a not very creditable 
secret, and had sold it for eight thousand dollars. The 
happy day had at length arrived when he was to carry home 
this large capital. After his long endeavour to appear calm, 
while his heart was beating with anxious suspense like a 
smith's hammer, he was now happy as a child ; he jumped 
round the room, laughed with pleasure, and asked Hippus 
what sort of wine he would like to drink to-day. " Wine 
alone will not do," replied Hippus ominously. " However, 
it is long since I have tasted any Hungarian. Get a bottle 
of old Upper Hungary ; or stay, it is dark enough, I will go 
for it myself" 

" How^ much does it cost ? " 
" Two dollars." 

"That is a good deal, but 'tis all one, here they are:" 
and he threw them on the table. 

" All right," said Hippus, snatching at them. " But 
this alone will not do, I must have my percentage. 




182 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



However, as we are old acquaintance, I will be satisfied 
with only five per cent, of what you have made to-day." 
Veitel stood petrified. 

"Not a word against it," continued Hippus, with a 
wicked glance at him over his spectacles ; " we know each 
other. I was the means of your getting the money, and I 
alone. You make use of me, and you see that I can make 
use of you. Give me four hundred of your eight thousand 
at once." 

Veitel tried to speak. 

" Not a word," repeated Hippus, rapping the table with 
the dollars in his hand ; " give me the money." 

Veitel looked at him, felt in the pocket of his coat, and 
laid down two notes. 

" Now, two more," said Hippus in the same tone. Veitel 
added another. 

" And now for the last, my son," nodded he encourag- 
ingly. 

Veitel delayed a moment and looked hard at the old 
man's face, on which a malevolent pleasure was visible. 
There was no comfort there, however ; so he laid down the 
fourth note, saying, in a stifled voice, " I have been mis- 
taken in you, Hippus ;" and turning away, he wiped his eyes. 

" Do not take it to heart, you booby," said his instructor ; 
"if I die before you, you shall be my heir. And now I am 
off to taste the wine, and I will make a point of drinking 
your health, you sensitive Itzig ;" and so saying, he crept 
out of the door. 

Veitel once more wiped away a bitter tear that rolled 
down his cheeks. His pleasure in his winnings was gone. 
It was a complex sort of feeling this grief of his. True, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



183 



he mourned the lost notes, but he had lost something 
more. The only man in the world for whom he felt 
any degree of attachment had behaved unkindly and self- 
ishly towards him. It was all over henceforth between 
him and Hippus. He could not, indeed, do without him ; 
but he hated him from this hour. The old man had made 
him more solitary and unscrupulous than before. Such is 
the curse of bad men ; they are rendered wretched, not only 
by their crimes, but even their best feelings turn to gall. 

However, this melancholy mood cUd not long continue. 
He took out his remaining treasure, counted it over, felt 
cheered thereby, and turned his thoughts to the future. His 
social position had been changed at a stroke. As the pos- 
sessor of eight thousand dollars — alas ! there were but seven 
thousand six hundred ! — he was a small Croesus among 
men of his class : many carried on transactions involving 
hundreds of thousands without as much capital as he had ; 
in short, the world was his oyster, and he had but to be- 
think himself with what lever he should open it — how in- 
vest his capital — how double it — how increase it tenfold ! 
There were many ways before him : he might continue to 
lend money on high interest, he might speculate, or carry 
on some regular business ; but each of these involved his 
beloved capital in some degree of risk ; he might win, in- 
deed, but then he might lose all, and the very thought so 
terrified him that he relinquished one scheme after another. 

There was, indeed, one way in which a keen-witted man 
might possibly make much without great danger of loss. 

Veitel had been accustomed, as a dealer in old clothes, 
to visit the different seats of landed proprietors ; at the 
wool market he was in the habit of offering his services to 



184 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



gentlemen with moustachios and orders of merit ; in his 
master's office he was constantly occupied with the means 
and affairs of the nobility. How intimately he knew old 
Ehrenthal's secret desire to become the possessor of a certain 
estate ! And how came it that in the midst of his annoy- 
ance with Hippus, the thought of his schoolfellow Anton 
suddenly flashed across him, and of the day when he had 
walked with him last? That very morning he had wan- 
dered about the Baron's estate, and lounged by the cow- 
nouse, counting the double row of horns within, till the 
dairy-maid ordered him away. Now the thought passed 
like lightning through his brain, that he might as well be- 
come the owner of that estate as Elirenthal, and drive with 
a pair of horses into the town. From that moment he had 
a fixed plan, and began to carry it out. 

And he speculated cunningly too. He determined to 
acquire a claim upon the Baron's property by a mortgage ; 
thus he would safely invest his capital, and work on quietly 
till the day came when he could get hold of the property 
itself. At all events, if he did not succeed in that, his 
money would be safe. Meanwhile, he would become an 
agent and commissioner, buy and sell, and do many clever 
things besides. Also, he must remain Ehrenthal's factotum 
as long as it suited him. Rosalie was handsome and rich ; 
for Bernhard would not live to inherit his father's wealth. 
Perhaps he might desire to become Ehrenthal's son-in-law, 
perhaps not ; at all events, there was no hurry about that. 
There was one other with whom he must get on a secure 
footing — the little black man now drinking that expensive 
wine down stairs. Henceforth he would pay him for what- 
ever he did for him, but he would not confide in him. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



185 



These were the resolves of Veitel Itzig ; and having con- 
cocted his plans, he locked his door, threw himself down 
exhausted on his hard bed, the imaginary possessor of 
Baron Rothsattel's fair property. 

That evening the Baroness and her daughter sat together 
in the conservatory, and both were silent : the Baroness 
intently watching a bright moth, which was bent upon fly- 
ing into the lamp, and came knocking its thick little body 
over and over again against the glass which saved its life. 

Lenore bent over her book, but often cast an inquiring 
glance at her mother's thoughtful face. 

There came a quick step along the gravel, and the old 
bailiff, cap in hand, asked for the master. 

"What do you want?" said Lenore ; "has anything 
happened ?" 

"It's all over 'with the old black horse," said the bailiff 
in great concern ; " he has been biting and kicking like mad, 
and now he is gasping his last ! " 

Lenore sprang up with an exclamation for which her 
mother chid her. 

" I will come and see to him myself," said slie, and 
hurried oft' with the old man. 

The sick horse lay on his straw with the sweat running 
down, and his sides heaving violently. The stable boys stood 
around looking at him phlegmatically : when Lenore entered, 
the horse turned his head towards her as if asking help. 

" He knows me yet," cried she. Then turning to the 
Lead groom — " Ride off instantly for a veterinary surgeon." 

The man did not like the thought of a long ride at night, 
and rephed, " The doctor is never at home, and the horse 
will be dead before he can come." 



186 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Go at once ! " commanded Lenore, pointing to the door. 

" What is the matter with the groom ? " asked Lenore, as 
they left the stable. 

" He is grown good for nothing, and ought to be sent 
off, as I have often tohi my master ; but the lout is as 
obedient to him as possible — he knows the length of his 
•foot — while to every one else he is cross-grained, and gives 
me daily trouble." 

" I will speak to my father," replied Lenore, with a 
slight frown 

The old servant continued, "Ah, dear young lady, if 
you would but look after things a little it would be a good 
thing for the property. I am not satisfied with the dairy 
either : the new housekeeper does not know how to manage 
the maids, she is too smart by half — ribbons before and 
behind. Things used to go on better : the Baron used to 
come and look at the butter-casks, now he is busy with 
other things ; and when the master grows careless, servants 
soon snap their fingers at the bailiff. You can be sharp 
enough with people ; it's a thousand pities you are not a 
gentleman." 

" You are right ; it is a thousand pities," said Lenore 
approvingly ; " but there's no help for it. However^ I will 
see to the butter from this very day. How is corn now 1 
You have been buying some lately ?" 

" Yes," said the old man dejectedly ; " my master would 
have it so. I don't know what's come to him : he sold 
the whole granary full to that Ehrenthal in winter." 

Lenore listened sympathizingly, with her hands behind her. 
" Do not fret about it, my old friend," said she ; " when- 
ever papa is not at home, I will go about the fields with 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



187 



you, and you shall smoke your pipe all the same. How do 
you Hke the new one I brought you?" 

" It has a beautiful colour already," said the baihrf, 
chuckling, and drawing it out of his pocket. " But to 
return to tlic black horse; the Baron will be very angry 
when he hears of it, and we could not help it either." 

" Well then," said Lenore, " if it could not be helped, it 
must be endured. Good-night. Go back now to the horse." 

" I will, dear young lady ; and good-night to you too," 
said the bailiff. 

The Baroness had remained in the conservatory, think- 
ing of her husband, who formerly would have been by her 
side on an evening like this. Yes, there was a change in 
him : kind and affectionate towards her as ever, he was 
often absent and pre-occupied, and more easily irritated by 
trifles ; his cheerfulness was of a more boisterous character, 
and his love for men's society increasing. And she mourn- 
fully asked herself whether it were the fading of her youth 
that accounted for this? 

"Is not my father yet returned?" asked Lenore as she 
entered. 

" No, my child, he has much to do in town ; perhaps 
he will not be back till to-morrow morning." 

"I do not like papa being so much away," said Lenore ; 
" it is long since he has read aloud to us in the evening, as 
he used to do." 

" He means you to be my reader," said her mother with 
a smile ; "so take your book and sit down quietly by me, 
you impetuous child." 

Lenore pouted, and instead of taking up the book, threw 
her arms round her mother, and said, "Darling, you too 



188 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



are sad and anxious about my father. Things are no longer 
as they used to be. I am no child now ; tell me what he 
is doing." 

" Nonsense," calmly replied the Baroness. " I am keep- 
ing nothing back from you. If there really be any reason 
for your father's frequent absence, it is our duty to wait till 
he chooses to communicate it; and this is not difficult to 
those who love and trust him as we do." 

" And yet your eyes are tearful, and you do seek to hide 
your anxiety from me. If you will not, I will ask my father 
myself," 

"No, you shall not!" said the Baroness in a tone of 
decision. 

"My father !" cried Lenore ; "I hear his step." 

The stately form came rapidly towards them. " Good 
evening, my home treasures !" he called out. Then clasp- 
ing wife and daughter at once in his arms, he looked so 
cheerfully at them, that the Baroness forgot her anxiety 
and Lenore her question. The Baron sat down between 
them, and asked whether they saw anything unusual about 
him. 

" You are cheerful," said his wife fondly, " as you al- 
ways are." 

" You have been paying visits," said Lenore ; " I know 
that by your white cravat." 

" Right," replied the Baron ; " but there's something 
more : the King has been graciously pleased to give me the 
order my father and grandfather have both worn, and I am 
much pleased that the cross should thus become, as it were, 
hereditary in our family. And with the order came a most 
gracious letter from the Prince." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



189 



" How charming ! " cried his wife, throwing her arms 
around him ; " I have longed for this star for some years 
past. We will put on the decoration ; " and, having done 
so, she loyally kissed, first her husband, and then the 
cross. 

" We know indeed," said the Baron, " how such things 
are rated in our days, and yet I confess that the rank im- 
plied by such a decoration is intensely precious to me. Our 
family is one of the oldest in existence, and there has never 
been a mesalliance amongst us. However, at the present 
time money is beginning to replace our former privileges ; 
and even we nobles must take thought for it if we wish to 
preserve our families in the same position as ourselves. I 
must provide for you, Lenore, and your brother." 

" As for me," said Lenore, crossing her arms, " I can do 
nothing for the honour of the family. If I marry, which 
I have, however, no inclination to do, I must take some 
other name ; and little will my old ancestors, in armour 
yonder in the hall, care wlio I chose for master. I cannot 
remain a Rothsattel." 

The father drew her towards him laughingly. " If I 
could only find out how my child has got these heretical 
notions," said he. 

" She has always had them," said her mother. 

" They will pass," answered the Baron, kissing his 
daughter's brow. " And now read the Prince's letter, while 
I go and look after the black horse." 

" I will go with you," said Lenore. 

The order, a memorial of the chivalrous past, was a source 
of still more satisfaction to the Baron than he cared to 
avow. The congratulations of his numerous acquaintance 



190 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



pleased him, and he felt it a pioij to his self-respect; whicli 
it often needed. A week later, Ehrenthal came on his way 
to the neighbouring village to offer his congratulations 
too, and just as he was makuig his final bow, he said, 
" You had once a notion, Baron, of setting up a beetroot- 
sugar factory. I find that a company is about to be 
formed to build one in your neighbourhood. I have been 
asked to take shares, but first of all I thought I would as- 
certain your views." 

This intelligence was very unwelcome ; for though, after 
much deliberation and consultation, he had resolved, for 
the present, to postpone the project, the Baron did not 
like it to be hopelessly interfered with by a rival factory. 

In a tone of vexation, he exclaimed — " Just now, when 
I have, for a time, that capital to dispose of ! " 

" Baron," said Ehrenthal heartily, " you are a rich man, 
and much respected. Give out that you mean to set up a 
factory yourself, and the company will be dispersed in a 
few days." 

" You know I cannot do so at present," said the Baron 
reluctantly. 

"You can, gracious sir, if you choose. I am not the 
man to urge you to it. What do you want with money- 
making ? But if you say to me, ' Ehrenthal, I will set up 
a factory,' why, I have capital for you as much as you 
like. I myself have a sum of ten thousand dollars ready ; 
you may have it any day. And now I will make a pro- 
posal. I will get you the money you want,- at a moderate 
rate of interest ; and for the money I myself advance, you 
shaU give me a share of the business until you are able to 
repay the sum. Should you require further money, you 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



191 



must take a mortgage on your property till you can replace 
the whole." 

The proposal ap])eared disinterested and friendly, but the 
Baron felt a certain misgiving, and declined it. 

Accordingly, Ehrentlial had to retire, saying, " You can 
think the matter over ; I shall, at all events, put off the 
forming of the company for a month." 

From that day ft)rth the Baron was deluged with letters, 
notes, and messages. First Ehrenthal wrote to say he had 
got the month's delay ; then Herr Karfunkelstein, one of 
the projected company, wrote to say he resigned his pre- 
tensions ; then Ehrenthal wrote again, enclosing the yearly 
accounts of a similar factory, that the profits might he 
judged of. Then a Herr Wolfsdorf wrote to offer capital at 
a low rate of interest. Then, lastly, an unknown person 
of the name of Itzigveit, ^^Tote to beg that, at least, the 
Baron would not enter into partnership with Ehrenthal, as 
was rumoured in the town, for though a rich, he was a veiy 
selfish man, and that the writer could advance capital 
on much better terms ; whereupon Ehrenthal wrote again 
that some of his enemies were, he knew, intriguing against 
him, and wishing to make money themselves in the Baron's 
promising undertaking, but that the Baron must please 
himself ; that, for his part, he was an honourable man, and 
did not wish to push himself forward. 

The consequence of all these communications was, that the 
Baron grew familiar with the thought of building his fac- 
tory Avith borrowed money. However, there was one thing 
that ofiended his pride, and that was the thought of 
Ehrenthal as a shareholder ; so far the letter of the un- 
known Itzigveit had taken effect. 



192 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



During the next month he was the prey of a miserable 
irresolution, and his wife, in silent soitow, observed his ex- 
citement. He often went to town, and often inspected 
similar factories. True, the evidence thus collected was not 
encouraging, but this he attributed to dread of his competi- 
tion, or to unfavourable details of site or management. 

The month was over, and a letter came from Ehrenthal 
to beg for a decision, as some members of the company were 
impatient of further delay. 

It was on the evening of a hot day, that the Baron wan- 
dered restlessly over his grounds. HeavT" black clouds 
gathered over an arch of yellow sky. The grasshoppers 
chirped far louder than their wont. The little birds 
twittered as if in apprehension of some coming evil. The 
swallows flew low, and darted by close to the Baron, as if 
they did not see him. The wild-flowers along the road 
hung down covered with dust. The shepherd who passed 
him looked grey and spectral in the lurid light. 

The Baron strolled on to the other side of the lake 
whence Anton had taken his last look of the lordly home. 
The Castle now stood before him in a crimson glow ; eveiy 
window-pane seemed on fire, and the red roses lay like 
drops of blood upon the dark green climbers beneath . And 
nearer and nearer rolled on the black clouds, as if to shroud 
the bright pile from sight. Not a leaf stirred, not a ripple 
curled the water. The Baron looked down into the water 
for some living thing, a spider, a dragon-fly, and started 
back from the pale face that m.et him, and which at first 
he did not recognise as his own. There was a sultiy, 
boding, listless gloom over his heart as over all nature. 

Suddenly a strange shivering sound in the tree-tops — a 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



193 



signal to the storm. Again a pause, and then down rushed 
the mighty wind, bending the trees, curling the lake, driv- 
ing the dust in wild whirls along. The bright light faded 
from the Castle, and all the landscape toned down into 
bluish grey. Then forked lightning, and a long and solemn 
peal. 

The Baron drew himself up to his full height, and turned 
to meet the storm. Leaves and branches flew round him, 
big drops fell on his head, but he kept looking up at the 
clouds, and at the lightning that flashed from them, as 
though expecting a decision from on high. 

Then came the galloping of a horse's feet, and a gay 
voice cried out, "Father!" A young cavalry oflficer had 
drawn up beside him. 

" My son ! my beloved son ! " cried the Baron with a 
quivering voice ; " you are come at the right time." And 
he clasped the youth to his heart, and then held his hands 
and looked long into his face. All indecision, all mournful 
forebodings were over, he felt again as the head of his house 
should feel. Before him stood, blooming in youth and 
health, the future of his family. He took it as an omen, 
as the voice of fate to him in the hour of decision. " And 
now," said he, " come home, there is no further need for our 
remaining in the rain." 

While the Baroness drew her son down by her on the 
sofa, and never wearied of looking at and admiring him, 
the Baron sat at the window and watched the torrents of 
rain. Brighter grew the flashes, and shorter the interval 
between them and the thunder's roll. 

" Shut the window," said she, " the storm comes this 
way." 

N 



194 DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 

< It will do our house no harm," replied her husband 
encouragingly. " The conductor stands firm on the roof, 
and shines through the clouds. And now look there where 
the clouds are blackest, behind those bright green ash 
trees." 

" I see the spot," returned she. 

" Make up your mind," continued he, smiling, " always 
to have your beloved blue sky covered with gi-ey smoke in 
that direction. Above those trees will rise the factory 
chimney." 

" You mean to build ?" inquired the Baroness anxiously. 

" I do," was the reply. " The undertaking will involve 
much that will be disagreeable to you and me, and will re- 
quire all my energies. If I venture upon it, it is not for 
our own sake, but our children's. I wish to secure this 
property to our family, and so to increase its returns that 
the owner may be able amply to provide for the rest of 
his children, and yet leave the estate to the eldest son. 
After much painful deliberation I have this day taken my 
resolve." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



195 



CHAPTER XVII. 

T^HE Baron carried on his undertaking with the greatest 
possible spirit. He superintended the burning of the 
bncks, he himself marked the trees destined to be cut down 
for the building. Ehrenthal had recommended a builder, 
and the Baron had found out a manager for the concern. 
He had made careful inquiries as to this man's past career, 
and congratulated himself upon the amount of his theoretical 
knowledge. Possibly this was not wholly an advantage, 
for plain practical men declared that he could never let a 
factory go quietly on, but was always interrupting the daily 
work with new inventions and contrivances, and was there- 
fore both expensive and unsafe. But the Baron, naturally 
enough, considered his probity and intelligence to be the 
main point, and valued the theoretical skill of the manager 
in proportion to his own ignorance. 

Pleasant as his prospects were, there were yet many 
drawbacks. Order and comfort had flown away with the 
storks, who had for years been accustomed to make their 
nests on the great barn. Everybody suffered from the new 
undertaking. The Baroness lost a corner of the park, and 
had the grief of seeing a dozen noble old trees felled. The 
gardener wrung his hands over the thefts committed by the 
strange labourers that swarmed in all directions. The bailiff 



196 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



was in perfect despair at the disorders in his jurisdiction. 
His horses and oxen were taken from him to carry timber, 
when he wanted them to plough. The wants of the house- 
hold increased ; the returns from the property got less and 
less. Lenore had much to do to comfort him, and brought 
him many pounds of tobacco from the town, that he might 
smoke off his annoyance. But the heaviest burden of 
course pressed upon the Baron himself His study was now 
become a place of public resort like any tradesman's shop. 
He had to give advice, to come to a decision, to overcome 
difficulties in a dozen directions at once. He went almost 
daily to town, and when he returned he was absent and 
morose in the midst of his family. His was a fair hope 
indeed, but it was one very difficult to realize. 

The Baron found some comfort, however, in Ehrenthal's 
cheerful devotedness. He was always useful, and fertile 
in expedient, and never appeared doubtful as to the result 
of the undertaking. He was now a frequent visitor, wel- 
come to the master of the house, but less so to the ladies, 
who suspected him of having been the prompter of the 
factory scheme. 

One sunny day, Ehrenthal, with shirt-frill and diamond 
pin, made his appearance in his son's room. " Will you 
drive with me to-day to the Rothsattel's Castle, my Bern- 
hard 1 I told the Baron that I should bring you with me 
to introduce you to the family." 

Bernhard sprang up from his seat. " But, father, I am 
an utter stranger to them all?" 

" When you have seen and spoken to them, you will 
no longer be a stranger," replied his father. " They are 
good people ; good people," added he benevolently. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



197 



Bernliard had still some modest scruples, but they were 
overruled, and the two set out together — the pale student 
in much excitement at the novelty of the drive, and the 
prospect of seeing a renowned beauty like Lenore. 

Meanwhile, his father overflowed with the praises of 
the family. " Noble people," said he ; " if you could only 
see the Baroness as she is in her lace cap, so delicate and 
so refined. Too refined for this world as it is ! Every- 
thing so elegant ! To be sure, the pieces of sugar are too 
large, and the wine is too dear, but it all seems of a piece 
with their rank." 

" Is Fraulein Lenore a great beauty? " inquired Bemhard. 
" Is she very proud 1 " 

" She is proud, but she is a beauty indeed. Between 
ourselves, I admire her more than Rosalie." 

" Is she a blonde ? " 

Ehrenthal took some time to consider. " Blonde 1 what 
should she be but a blonde or a brunette? one thing I know, 
she has blue eyes. You can look over the farm, and do not 
forget to walk round the park. See whether you can find 
a spot where you would like to sit with your book." 

The guileless Bernhard heard in silence. 

The carriage stopped at the Castle door. The servants 
announced that the Baron was in his room — the Baroness 
not visible, but that the young lady was walking in the 
garden. Ehrenthal and his son went round the house, and 
saw Lenore' s tall figure slowly crossing the grass plot. 
Ehrenthal threw himself into a deferential attitude, and 
presented his son, who bowed low. Lenore bestowed a 
cool sort of salutation upon the student, and said, " If you 
want my father, he is up stairs in his room." 



198 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



"I will go to him, then. Bernhard, you may, I am 
sure, remain with the young lady." 

Arrived in the Baron's room, the trader placed some 
thousand dollars on the table, saying, "Here is the first 
sum. And now, what does the Baron wish as to the 
security 1 " 

" According to our agreement, I must give you a mort- 
gage on the property," was the reply. 

" Do you know what, Baron ? It would never do for you 
to grant a fresh mortgage for every thousand dollars that 
I might happen to pay in, it would be very expensive, and 
would bring the property into disrepute. Rather have a 
deed of mortgage drawn up, for some considerable sum, say 
twenty thousand dollars, and let it stand in the name of 
the Baroness ; you will then have a security that you may 
sell any day. And every time I pay you, give me a simple 
uote-of-hand, pledging your word of honour that I have a 
claim to that amount on the mortgage. That is a simple 
plan, and remains a secret between you and me. And 
when you need no further advances, we can settle the 
matter finally before an attorney. You can make over the 
mortgage to me, and I return you the notes-of-hand, and 
repay you whatever may be wanted to make up the twenty 
thousand. I only ask your word of honour on a shp of 
paper no longer than my finger, and when the deed is 
ready, I should wish to have it executed in my house — 
you cannot object to that. Any lawyer would tell you 
that I am not dealing in a business-like way. A man's 
word is often broken, but if there is one thing sure and 
steadfast in the world, I believe it is your word of honour, 
Baron." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



199 



Ehrenthal said this with an expression of sincerity, 
which was not altogether assumed. This plan of his was 
the result of many a consultation with Itzig. He knew 
that the Baron would require far more than twenty thou- 
sand dollars, and it was to his advantage that he should 
procure them easily. Besides which, he, the thorough rogue, 
had firm trust in the nobleman's integrity. 

Meanwhile, Lenore had asked Bernhard whether he 
would like to walk in the park. He followed her in 
silence, looking timidly at the fair young aristocrat, who 
carried her head high, and troubled herself but little about 
her companion. Wlien she reached the gi-ass-plot station 
that had once so enchanted Anton, she stood still, and 
pointed to the gravel walk, saying, " That way leads to the 
lake, and this to the garden again." 

Bernhard looked up in amazement at the Castle and its 
turrets, its balcony, and creeping plants, and exclaimed, " I 
have seen all this before, and yet I have never been here ! " 

"And certainly," said Lenore, "the Castle has never 
been to the tow ; there may be others like it." 

" No," replied Bernhard, trying to collect his ideas ; "no ; 
I have seen a drawing of it in a friend's room. He must 
know you," cried he with dehght, " and yet he never told 
me so ! " 

" What is your friend's name ? " 

" Anton Wohlfart." 

The lady turned round at once with sudden animation. 
"Wohlfart? a clerk in T. 0. Schroter's house? Is it 
he ? And this gentleman is your friend ? How did you 
become acquainted with him ? " And she stood before 
Bernhard with her hands behind her back, like a severe 



200 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



schoolmistress cross-examining a little thief about a stolen 
apple. 

Bernhard told her how he had learned to know and love 
Anton ; and, in doing so, he lost some of his embarrassment, 
while the young lady lost some of her haughty indifference. 

She asked him many questions about his friend, and 
Bernhard grew eloquent as he replied. 

Then she led him through the park, as once she had led 
Anton. Bernhard was a son of the city. It was not the 
lofty, wide-spreading trees, nor the gay flower-beds, nor the 
turreted castle which made an impression on him, his eyes 
were riveted on Lenore alone. It was a bright September 
evening, the sunlight fell through the branches, and when- 
ever Lenore's hair caught its rays, it shone like gold. The 
proud eye, the delicate mouth, the slender limbs of the noble 
girl took his fancy prisoner. She laughed, and showed her 
little white teeth, — he was enraptured ; she broke off a twig 
and struck the shrubs with it as she passed, — it seemed to 
him that they bent before her in homage to the ground ! 

They came to the bridge between the park and the fields, 
where a few little girls ran to Lenore, and kissed her hands ; 
she received the tribute of respect as a queen might have 
done. Two other children had made a long chain of dande- 
lion stalks, and with it barred Bemhard's way. 

"Away with you. rude little things," cried Lenore; 
" how can you think of barring our way ? The gentleman 
comes from the Castle." 

And Bernhard felt with pride that, for the moment, he 
belonged to her. He put his hand in his purse, and soon got 
rid of the children. " It is long," said he, " since I have 
seen a dandelion chain. I have an indistinct recollection 



DEBIT AND CREDIT, 



201 



of sitting as a little boy in a green nook, and trying to 
make one." And gathering a few dandelion stalks, he be- 
gan the childish task. 

" If you are so expert in such childish play," said Lenore, 
" here is something for you and she pointed to a great 
burdock near the roadside. " Have you ever seen a cap of 
bursr' 

" No," answered Bernhard, with some slight misgiv- 
ing. 

" You shall have one immediately," said Lenore. She 
went to the burdock ; Bernhard gathered her some handfuls 
of burs. She fitted one into the other, and made a cap 
with two little horns. " You may put it on," said she 
graciously. 

" I dare not, the very birds would be frightened. If 
you too would " 

" You cannot expect me to wear burs," replied she ; 
" but you shall have your wish." She led him back to a 
group of sun-flowers in the shrubbery, and gathering a few 
of them, she made a kind of helmet, which she laughingly 
put on. " Now for your cap," commanded she. Bernhard 
obeyed, and his thoughtful, deeply-marked features, black 
coat, and white cravat looked so strange and incongruous 
beneath the cap of burs, that Lenore could not help laugh- 
ing. " Come with me," said she ; " you shall look at your- 
self in the lake." And she led him past the site of the 
factory — a rough place, with heaps of earth, tiles, beams, 
in utmost confusion. It was a holiday ; all the labourers 
had left, but some village children were playing about and 
collecting chips. A few steps further on they came to a 
little bay, covered with water-lilies and surrounded by 



202 



DEBIT AND CREDIT, 



brushwood. " How desolate it looks," said Lenore ; " the 
bushes half pulled away — even the trees injured. All the 
result of this building. We seldom come here on account 
of the strange workmen. The village children, too, are 
become so bold, they make this their play-ground, and 
there is no keeping them away." 

That moment a boat came in sight. A little village girl, 
a red-faced chubby thing, stood up tottering in it, while her 
older brother tried to get as far from shore as with one oar he 
could. "Look !" cried Lenore angrily, " the little wretches 
have actually taken our boat ! Come back instantly to the 
shore." The children were startled, the boy di'opped the 
oar, the little girl tottered more than before, and, in the 
terror of a guilty conscience, lost her balance and fell into 
the water. Her brother drifted helplessly into the bay. 
" Save the child !" screamed Lenore. Bernhard ran into the 
lake forgetting that he could not swim, waded in a few 
steps, and then stood up to the breast in mud and water. 
He stretched out his arms to the spot where the child had 
sunk, but could not reach it. Meanwhile, Lenore had sprung, 
quick as lightning, behind a bush. After a few seconds she 
returned and ran to a projecting bank. 

Bernhard looked with rapture and terror at her tall 
figure. She still wore her fantastic coronal, her light 
garments floated round her, her eyes were fixed upon the 
spot where the child would re-appear. Raising her arms 
above her head, she leaped in and swam towards it, seized 
its frock, struck out with her free arm, and soon reached the 
boat. Exerting all her strength she lifted the child in, and 
then drew the boat to land. Bernhard, who, pale as death, 
had stood watching her eff'orts, fought his way back to the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



203 



land, gave her his hand and drew in the boat. Lenore 
carried the unconscious child. Bernhard lifted out the boy, 
and both hurried to the gardener's house, while the little 
lad ran screaming behind them. Lenore' s soaked garments 
clung closely to her beautiful form, and every movement of 
her fair limbs was seen almost unveiled by her companion. 
She did not heed it, Bernhard went with her into the 
room, but she hastily sent him out again ; while, with the 
help of the gardener's wife, she undressed, and sought by 
friction and other means to restore the child to life. 
Meanwhile Bernhard stood without, his teeth chattering 
with cold, but in a state of excitement which made his eyes 
glow like fire. " Is the child alive?" he called through the 
door. 

" She is," answered Lenore from within. 

"Thank God !" cried Bernhard; but his thoughts rose 
no higher than the fair being within. Long he stood there 
shuddering and dreaming, till at length a tall figure in 
woollen garments came out of the door. It was Lenore in 
the clothes of the gardener's wife, still agitated by aU she 
had gone through, but with a happy smile on her lips. 
Bernhard, beside himself, kissed her hand more than 
once. 

" You look very well," said Lenore cheerfully ; " but you 
will catch cold." 

He stood before her, wet and dripping, covered with 
weeds and mud. " I do not feel cold," cried he, but his 
limbs shook. 

" Go in at once," urged Lenore, and opening the door 
she called to the good woman — " Give this gentleman your 
husband's clothes." 



204 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Bernhard obeyed, and when he came out metamorphosed 
into a rustic, he found Lenore rapidly walking up and down. 

" Come to the Castle," said she, with all her former 
dignity. 

" I should like once more to see the child," replied he. 

They went to the bed on which the little girl lay. She 
looked up dreamingly at Bernhard, who bent over her, 
and kissed her forehead. " She is the child of a labourer 
in the village," said the gardener's wife. Unobserved by 
Lenore, Bernhard laid his purse on the bed. 

On their return they found Ehrenthal impatient to de- 
part. His amazement at recognising his Bernhard in 
the rustic before him, was boundless. 

" Give the gentleman a cloak," said Lenore to the ser- 
vants ; "he is benumbed with cold. Wrap yourself up well, 
or you may long have cause to remember your march 
amongst the water-lilies." 

And Bernhard did remember it. He wrapped the cloak 
about him, and squeezed himself up into a corner of the 
carriage. A burning heat had succeeded to the chill, and 
his blood rushed wildly through his veins. He had seen 
the fairest woman on the earth, he had experienced re- 
alities more transporting, more absorbing, than any of 
his favourite poet's dreams. He could hardly answer 
his father's questions. There they sat side by side, cold 
cunning and burning passion personified. This excur- 
sion had been propitious to both ; the father had got the 
long-desired hold on the Rothsattel property, the son had 
had an adventure which gave a new colouring to his whole 
existence. 

On the Baron's estate the factory slowly rose ; in Ehren- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



205 



tlial's coffers, the Baron's casket got filled by notes-of-hand, 
and the new deed of mortgage ; and while Bernhard's 
tender frame drooped under the effects of the cold bath 
above described, he gave his spirit up to the intoxication 
of the sweetest fancies. 



20G 



DEBIT AND CREDIT 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

ANE afternoon, the postman brought to Fink a letter with 
a black seal. Having opened it, he went silently to 
his own room. As he did not return, Anton anxiously 
followed, and found Fink sitting on the sofa, his head 
resting on his hand. 

" You have had bad news ? " inquired Anton. 

" My uncle is dead," was the reply ; " he, the richest 
man, perhaps, in Wall Street, New York, has been blown 
up in a Mississippi steamer. He was an imapproachable 
sort of man, but in his way very kind to me, and I repaid 
him by folly and ingratitude. This thought embitters his 
death to me. And besides that, the fact decides my future 
career." 

" You will leave us ! " cried Anton in dismay. 

" I must set off to-morrow. My father is heir to all 
my uncle's property, with the exception of some land in the 
far west, to which I am left executor. My uncle was a 
great speculator, and there is much troublesome business to 
be settled. Therefore, my father wishes me to go to New 
York as soon as possible, and I plainly see that I am wanted 
there. He has all at once conceived a high idea of my 
judgment and capacity for business. Read his letter." 
Anton scrupled to take it. " Read it, my boy," said Fink, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



207 



with a sad smile ; "in my family circle, father and son write 
each other no secrets." Anton read. " The excellent accounts 
which Mr. Schroter sends me of your practical sense and 
shrewdness in business, lead me to request you to go over 
yourself In which case, I shall send Mr. Westlock of our 
house to assist you." 

Anton laid the letter down, and Fink asked, " What say 
you to this praise of the principal's ! You know that I had 
some reason to believe myself far from a favourite." 

" Be that as it may, I consider the praise just, and his 
estimate correct," repUed Anton. 

" At all events," said Fink, " it decides my fate. I shall 
now be what I have long wished, a landed proprietor on 
the other side of the Atlantic. And so, dear Anton, we 
must part," he continued, holding out his hand to his 
friend ; " I had not thought the time would so soon come. 
But we shall meet again." 

" Possibly," said Anton sadly, holding the young noble- 
man's hand fondly in his. " But now go to Mr. Schroter ; 
he has the first claim to hear this." 

" He knows it already ; he has had a letter from my 
father." 

" The more reason why he should expect you." 
" You are right ; let us go." 

Anton returned to his desk, and Fink went to the prin- 
cipaFs little office. The merchant came to meet him with 
a serious aspect ; and after having expressed his sympathy, 
invited him to sit down, and quietly to discuss his future 
prospects. 

Fink replied with the utmost courtesy ; " My father's 
views for me — based on your estimate — agree so well with 



208 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



my own wishes, that I must express my gratitude to you. 
Your opinion of me has been more favourable than I could 
have ventured to expect. If, however, you have really been 
satisfied with me, I should rejoice to hear it from your own 
lips." 

" I have not been entirely satisfied, Herr von Fink," re- 
plied the merchant with some reserve ; " you were not in 
your proper place here. But that has not prevented my 
discerning, that for other and more active pursuits, you 
were eminently well fitted. You have, in a high degree, 
the faculty of governing and arranging, and you possess 
uncommon energy of will. A desk in a counting-house is 
not the place for such a nature." 

Fink bowed. " Nevertheless, it was my duty," said he, 
" to fill that place properly, and I own that I have not 
done so." 

"You came here unaccustomed to regular work, but 
during the last few months, you have differed but little 
from a really industrious counting-house clerk. Hence my 
letter to your father." 

Fink rose ; and the merchant accompanied him to the 
door, saying, " Your departure will be a great loss to one of 
our friends " 

Fink abruptly stopped, and said, " Let him go with me 
to America. He is well fitted to make his fortune there." 
" Have you spoken to him on the subject ? " 
" I have not." 

" Then I may state my opinion unreservedly. Wohlfart 
is young, and I believe the defined and regular work of a 
house like this very desirable discipline for him for some 
years to come. Meanwhile, I have no right to sway his 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



209 



decision. T shall be sony to lose him, but if he thinks he 
shall make his fortune more rapidly with you, I have no 
objection to make." 

" If you will allow me, I will ask him at once," said 
Fink. 

Then calling Anton into the office, he went on to say, 
"Anton, I have requested Mr. Schroter to allow you to 
accompany me. It will be a great point to me to have 
you with me. You know how much attached to you I am ; 
we will share my new career, and get on gloriously, and 
you shall fix yoiu* own conditions. Mr. Schroter leaves 
you to decide." 

Anton stood for a moment thoughtful and perplexed ; the 
future so suddenly opened out to him looked fair and pro- 
mising, but he soon collected himself, and turning to the 
principal, inquired, " Is it your opinion that I should do 
right to go ? " 

" I cannot say it is, dear Wohlfart," was the merchant's 
grave reply. 

" Then I remain," said Anton decidetdy. " Do not be 
angry with me, Fritz, for not following you. I arn an 
orphan, and have now no home but this house and this 
firm. If Mr. Schroter will keep me, I will remain with 
him." 

Evidently touched by the words, the merchant replied : 
" Remember, however, that thus deciding you give up 
much. In my counting-house, you can neither become 
a rich man, nor have any experience of life on a large 
and exciting scale ; our business is limited, and the day 
may come when you will find this irksome. All that tends 
to your future independence, wealth, connexions, and so 

o 



210 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



forth, you will more readily secure in America than with 
me." 

" My good father often used to say to me, ' Dwell in 
the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.' I will live ac- 
cording to his wish," said Anton, in a voice low with 
emotion. 

" He is, and always will be, a mere cit," cried Fink in a 
sort of despair. 

" I beUeve that this love of country is a very sound 
foundation for a man's fortune to rise upon," said the mer- 
chant, and there was an end of the matter. 

Fink said nothing more about the proposal, and Anton 
tried, by countless small attentions, to show his friend 
how dear he was to him, and how much he regretted his 
departure. 

That evening Fink said to Anton, " Hearken, my lad ; I 
have a fancy to take a wife across with me." 

Anton looked at his friend in utter amazement, and, like 
one who has received a great shock and wishes to conceal 
it often does, he inquired, in forced merriment, " What ! 
you win actually ask Fraulein von Baldereck " — 

" That's not the quarter. What should I do with a 
woman whose only thought would be how she could best 
amuse herself with her husband's money?" 

" But who else can you be thinking of? Not of the 
ancient cousin of the house ?" 

" No, my fine fellow ; but of the young lady of the 
house." 

" For heaven's sake, no !" cried Anton, springing up ; 
" that would indeed be a pretty business." 

" Why so ?" was the cool reply. " Either she takes me, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



211 



and I am a lucky rnau ; ur she takes me not, and I start 
without a wife." 

" But have you ever thought of it before ?" inquired 
Anton uneasily. 

" Sometimes — indeed often during the last year. She 
is the best housewife, and the noblest, most unselfish crea- 
ture in the world." 

Anton looked at his friend in growing astonishment. 
Not once had Fink given him the remotest hint of sucli a 
thnig. 

" But you never told me of it." 

" Have you ever told me of your feelings for another 
young lady 1" replied Fink, laughing. 
Anton blushed, and waa silent. 

" I think," contmued Fink, " that she does not dislike 
me ; but whether she will go with me or not I cannot tell ; 
however, we shall soon know, for I am going at once to 
ask her." 

Anton barred the way. " Once more I implore you to 
reflect upon what you are going to do." 

" What is there to reflect upon, you simple child ?" 
laughed Fink ; but an unusual degree of excitement was 
visible in his manner. 

" Do you then love Sabine ?" asked Anton. 

" Another of your home-questions," replied Fink. " Yes, 
I do love her in my own way." 

" And you mean to take her into the backwoods f 

" Yes ; for she will be a high-hearted, strong-minded 
wife, and will give stability and wortn to my life there. 
She is not fascinating ; at least one can't get on with her as 
readily- as with many others ; but if I am to take a wife. I 



212 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



need one who can look after me. Believe me, the black- 
haired is the very one to do that ; and now let me go ; I 
must find out how I stand." 

" Speak at least to the principal, in the first instance," 
cried Anton after him. 

" First to herself," cried Fink, rushing down the stairs. 

Anton paced up and down the room. All that Fink had 
said in praise of Sabine was tme ; that he warmly felt. He 
knew, too, how deep her feeling for him was ; and yet he 
foresaw that his friend would meet with some secret ob- 
stacle or other. Then another thing displeased him. Fink 
had only spoken of himself ; had he thought of her happi- 
ness in the matter ; had he even felt what it would cost her 
to leave her beloved brother, her country, and her home 1 
True, Fink was the very man to scatter the blossoms of the 
New World profusely at her feet, but he was always rest- 
less ; actively employed, would he have any sympathy for 
the feelings of his German wife 1 And involuntarily our 
hero found himself taking part against his friend, and de- 
ciding that Sabine ought not to leave the home and the 
brother to whom she was so essential ; and, absorbed in 
these thoughts, Anton paced up and down, anxious and 
heavy-hearted. It grew dark, and stiU Fink did not 
return. 

Meanwhile he was announced to Sabine. She came 
hurriedly to meet him, and her cheeks were redder than 
usual as she said, " My brother has told me that you must 
leave us." 

Fink began in some agitation, — " I must not, I cannot 
leave, without having spoken openly to you. I came here 
without any interest in the quiet life to which I had been 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



213 



SO unaccustomed. I have here learned the worth and the 
happiness of a German home. You I have ever honoured 
as the good spirit of the house. Soon after my arrival, you 
began to treat me with a distance of manner which I have 
always lamented, I now come to tell you how much my 
eyes and my heart have clung to you. I feel that my life 
would be a hapj^y one if I could henceforth ever hear your 
voice, and if your spirit could accompany mine along the 
paths of my future life." 

Sabme became very pale, and retreated. " Say no more, 
Herr von Fink," said she, imploringly, raising her hand 
unconsciously, as if to avert what she foresaw. 

" Nay, let me speak," rapidly continued he. " I should 
consider it the greatest happiness, if I could take with me 
tlie conviction of not being indififerent to ycu. I have not 
the audacity to ask you to follow me at once into an uncer- 
tain life, but give me a hope that in a year I may return 
and ask you to become my wife ? " 

" Do not return," said Sabine, motionless as a statue, 
and in a voice scarcely audible ; " I implore you to say no 
more." 

Her hands con\a.ilsively grasped the back of the chair 
next to her; and, supporting herself by it, she stood 
with bloodless cheeks, looking at her suitor through her 
tears with eyes so full of grief and tenderness, that the 
wild-hearted man before her was thoroughly overcome, and 
lost all self-confidence, nay, forgot his own cause in his 
distress at her emotions, and his anxiety to soothe it. 

" I grieve that I should thus have shocked you," said 
he : " forgive me, Sabine." 

" Go, go !" implored Sabine, still standing as before. 



214 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Let me not part from you without some comfort ; 
give me an answer ; the most painful were better than this 
silence." 

" Then hear me," said Sabine, with unnatural calmness, 
while her breast heaved and her hands trembled ; "I loved 
you from the first day of your arrival ; like a childish girl 
I listened with rapture to the tone of your voice, and was 
fascinated by all your lips uttered ; but I have conquered 
the feeling. I have conquered it," she repeated. " I dare 
not be yours, for I should be miserable." 

" But why — why ?" inquired Fink, in genuine despair. 

" Do not ask me," said Sabine, scarce audibly. 

" I must hear my sentence from your own lips," cried 
Fink. 

" You have played with your own life, and with the 
life of others ; you would always be unsparing in carrying 
out your plans ; you would undertake what was great and 
noble — that I believe — but you would not shrink from the 
sacrifice of individuals. I cannot bear such a spirit. You 
would be kind to me — that, too, I believe ; you would 
make as many allowances for me as you could, but you 
would always have to make them : that would become 
burdensome to you, and I should be alone — alone in a 
foreign land. I am weak, spoiled, bound by a hundred 
ties to the customs of this house, to the little domestic 
duties of every-day, and to my brother's life." 

Fink looked down darkly. " You are punishing se- 
verely in this hour all that you have disapproved in me 
hitherto." 

" No !" cried Sabine, holding out her hand ; " not so, 
my friend ! If there have been hours in which you have 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



215 



pained me, there have been others in which 1 have looked 
up to you in admiration ; and this is the very reason that 
keeps us apart for ever. I can never be at rest near you ; 
I am constantly tossed from one extreme of feeling to 
another ; I am not sure of you, nor ever should be. I 
should have to conceal this inward conflict in a relation 
where my whole nature ought to be open to you ; and you 
would find that out, and would be angry with me." 

She gave him her hand. Fink bent low over the little 
hand, and pressed a kiss upon it. 

" Blessings on your future ! " said Sabine, trembling all 
over. " If ever you have spent a happy hour amongst us, 
oh, think of it when far away ! If ever in the German 
merchant's house, in the career of my brother, you have 
found anything to respect, think, think of it in that far 
country ! In the different life that awaits you, in the great 
enterprises, the wild struggles that you will engage in, 
never think slightingly of us and of our quiet ways ; " and 
she held her left hand over his head, like an anxious mother 
blessing her parting darling. 

Fink pressed her right hand firmly in his own : both 
looked long into each other's eyes, and both faces were pale. 
At last Fink said in his deep melodious voice, " Fare you 
well!" 

"Fare you well!" replied she, so low that he hardly 
caught the words. He walked slowly away, while she 
looked after him motionless, as one who watches the 
vanishing of an apparition. 

Wlien the merchant, after the close of his day's work, 
went into his sister's room, Sabine flew to meet him, and 
clasping him in her arms, laid her head on his breast. 



216 



DEBIT AXD CREDIT. 



"What is it, my child ?" inquired he, anxiously stroking 
back her hair from her damp brow. 

"Fink has been with me ; I have been speaking with him." 

" About what ? Has he been disagreeable ? Has he made 
you an offer ?" asked the merchant in jest. 

" He has made me an offer," said Sabine. 

Her brother started : " And you, my sister ?" 

" I have done what you might expect me to do — I shall 
not see him again." 

Tears started at the words ; she took her brother's hand 
and kissed it. 

"Do not be angiy with me for weeping. I am still a 
little shaken : it will soon pass." 

"My precious sister; dear, dear Sabine!" cried the 
merchant ; " I cannot but fear that you thought of me 
when you refused." 

" I thought of you and of your self-sacrificing, duty-loving 
life, and his bright form lost the fair colours in which I 
had once seen it clothed." 

" Sabine, you have made a sacrifice for my sake ! " cried 
her brother. 

" No, Traugott ! if this has been a sacrifice, I have made 
it to the home where I have grown up under your care, and 
to the memory of our good parents, whose blessing rests on 
our quiet life." 

It was late when Fink re-entered Anton's room ; he 
looked heated, threw his hat on the table, himself on the 
sofa, and said to his friend — 

" Before anything else, give me a cigar." 

Anton shook his head as he reached him a bundle, and 
asked, " How have you fared ?" 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



217 



"No wedding to be," coolly returned Fink. "She 
plainly showed me that I was a good-for-nothing sort of 
fellow, and no match for a sensible girl ; she took the 
matter rather too seriously, assured me of her regard, gave 
me a sketch of my character, and dismissed me. But, 
hang me 1" cried he, springing up, and throwing away his 
cigar, " if she be not the best soul that ever preached virtue 
in a petticoat. She has only one fault, that of not choosing 
to marry me; and even there she is right." 

Fink's strange bearing made Anton feel anxious. 

" Why have you been so long away, and where have you 
beenf said he. 

" Not to the wine-shop, as your wisdom seems to sur- 
mise. If a man be refused, he has surely a good right to 
be melancholy for a couple of hours or so. I have done 
what any one would in such desperate circumstances. I 
have walked about and philosophized, I have quan*elled 
with the world, that is to say, with the black-haired and 
myself ; and then ended by standing still before a lamp-lit 
stall, and buying three oranges." So saying, he drew them 
out of his pocket. "And now, my son, the past is over 
and gone ; let us speak of the future : this is the last even- 
ing that we shall spend together ; let no cloud hang over 
our spirits. Make me a glass of punch, and squeeze these 
fat fellows in. Orange-punchmaking is one of the accom- 
plishments you owe to me. I taught it you, and now the 
rogue makes it better than I do. Come and sit down 
beside me." 

The next morning old Sturm himself came to carry off 
the luggage. Fink took Anton's hand, and said, " Before 
I go through my leave-taking of all the others, I repeat to 



218 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



you what I said in our early days. Go on with your 
English, that you may come after m^e. And be I where I 
may, in log-hut or cabin, I shall always have a room ready 
for you. As soon as you are tired of this old world, come 
to me ! Meanwhile, I make you my heir ; you will take 
possession of my rooms. For the rest, be perfectly sure 
that I have done with all bad ways. And now, no 
emotion, my boy ! there are no great distances now-a-days 
on our little earth." He tore himself away, hurried into 
the counting-house, returned, bowed to the ladies at the 
window, clasped his friend once more to his heart, leaped 
into the carriage, and away, away to the New World ! 

Meanwhile, Anton mournfully returned to the office, and 
wrote a letter to Herr Stephan in Wolfsburg, enclosing that 
worthy man a new price-current, and several samples of 
sugar. 




DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



219 



CHAPTER XIX. 



BAD year came upou the country. A sudden rumour 



of war alarmed the German borderers in the east, and 
our province amongst the rest. The fearful consequences 
of a national panic were soon perceptible. Trade stood 
still; the price of goods fell. Every one was anxious to 
realize and withdraw from business ; and large sums em- 
barked in mercantile speculations, became endangered. No 
one had heart for new ventures. Hundreds of ties, woven 
out of mutual interest, and having endured for years, were 
snapped at once. Each individual existence became more 
insecure, isolated, and poor. On all sides were anxious faces 
and furrowed brows. The country was out of health ; 
money, the vital blood of business, circulated slowly from 
one part of the great body to the other — the rich fearing 
to lose, the poor becoming unable to win. The future was 
overcast all at once, like the summer sky by a heavy storm. 

That word of terror, "Revolution in Poland!" was not 
without serious effects in Germany. The people on the 
other side the frontier, excited by old memories and by 
their landed proprietors, rose, and, led by fanatical preachers, 
marched up and down the frontier, falling upon travellers 
and merchandise, plundering and burning small towns and 




220 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



noblemen's seats, and aiming at a military organization 
under the command of their favourite leaders. Arms were 
forged, old fowling-pieces produced from many a hiding- 
place ; and, finally, the insurgents took and occupied a large 
Polish town not far from the frontier, and proclaimed their 
independent national existence. Troops were then assembled 
in all haste by Government, and sent to invest the frontier. 
Trains filled with soldiers were incessantly running up and 
down the newly-constructed railway. The streets of the 
capital were filled with uniforms, and the drum everywhere 
heard. The army of course was all at once in the ascend- 
ant. The officers ran here and there, full of business, buy- 
ing maps, and drinking toasts in all sorts of wines. The 
soldiers wrote home to get money if possible, and to send 
more or less loving greetings to their sweethearts. Number- 
less young cheeks grew pale ; numberless mothers knit 
strong stockings through their tears, and providently made 
lint for their poor sons ; numberless fathers spoke with an 
unsteady voice of the duty of fighting for king and country, 
and braced themselves up by remembering the damage they 
had in their day done to that wicked Napoleon. 

It was on a sunny autumn morning that the first positive 
intelligence of the Polish insurrection reached the capital. 
Dark rumours had indeed excited the inhabitants on the 
previous evening; and crowds of anxious men of business 
and scared idlers were crowding the railway terminus. No 
sooner was the office of T. 0. Schroter open, than in rushed 
]\Ir. Braun, the agent, and breathlessly related (not without 
a certain inward complacency, such as the possessor of the 
least agreeable news invariably betrays) that the whole of 
Poland and Galicia, as well as several border provinces, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



221 



were in open insurrection, numerous quiet commercial tra- 
vellers and peaceable officials surprised and murdered, and 
numerous towns set fire to. 

This intelligence threw Anton into the greatest conster- 
nation, and with good cause. A short time before, an 
enterprising Galician merchant had undertaken to despatch 
an unusually large order to the firm ; and, as is the custom 
of the country, he had already received the largest part of 
the sum due to him for it (nearly twenty thousand dollars), 
in other goods. The wagons that were to bring the 
merchandise must now, Anton reckoned, be just in the 
heart of the disturbed district. Moreover, another caravan, 
laden with colonial produce, and on its way to Galicia, 
must be on the very confines of the enemy's land. And, 
v/hat was still worse, a large portion of the business of the 
house, and of the credit granted it, was carried on in, and 
depended upon, this very part of the country. Much, nay 
everything, he apprehended, would be endangered by this war. 
So he rushed up to his principal, met him coming down, and 
hastily related the news just heard ; while Mr. Braun hurried 
to deliver a second edition in the office, with as many further 
particulars as were compatible with his love of truth. 

The principal remained for a moment silent where he 
stood, and Anton, who was watching him anxiously, fancied 
that he looked a shade paler than usual ; but that must have 
been a mistake, for the next moment, directing his attention 
to the porters beyond, he called out, in the cool business- 
like tone which had so often impressed Anton with respect, 
" Sturm, be good enough to remove that barrel ; it's in the 
very middle of the way, and bestir yourselves all of you : 
the carrier will set out in an hour." To which Sturm, 



222 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



with a sorrowful look upon his broad face, replied, " The 
drums are beating, and our men marching off. My Karl 
is there as a hussar, with gay lace on his little coat. It is 
unlucky indeed! Alas for our wares, Mr. Schroter!" 

"Make the more haste on that account," replied the 
principal, smiling. " Our wagons are going to the frontier 
too, laden with sugar and rum ; our soldiers will be glad 
of a glass of punch in the cold weather." Then turning to 
Anton, he said, " These tidings are not satisfactory, but we 
must not believe all we hear." And then, going into his 
office, he spoke rather more cheerfully than usual to Mr. 
Braun ; and, having quietly heard his whole story, made a 
few comforting observations as to the probability of the 
wagons not having yet reached the frontier. 

And so the great subject of interest was laid aside for 
the day, and oflfice-work went on as usual. Mr. Liebold 
wTote down great sums in his ledger; Mr. Purzel piled 
dollar on dollar ; and Mr. Pix wielded the black brush, and 
governed the servants, with his wonted decision. At 
dinner the conversation was as calm and cheerful as ever; 
and after it, the principal went out walking with his sister 
and a few ladies of his acquaintance, while all business men 
who met him, exclaimed in amazement, "He goes out 
walking to-day ! As usual, he has known it all before the 
rest of us. He has a good head of his own. The house is 
a solid house. All honour to him !" 

Anton sat all day at his desk, in a state of nervous ex- 
citement, till then unknown to him. He was full of anxiety 
and suspense, and yet there was something of enjoyment in 
his feelings. He was keenly alive to the danger in which his 
principal and the business were placed ; but he was no longer 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



223 



dejected or spiritless ; nay, lie felt every faculty enhanced ; 
never had he written so easily; never had his style been 
so clear, or his calculations so rapidly made. He remarked 
that Mr. Schroter moved with a quicker stej), and looked 
round with a brighter glance than usual. Never had Anton 
so honoured him before ; he seemed, as it were, transfigured 
in his eyes. In wild delight our hero said to himself, 
" This is poetry — the poetry of business ; we can only ex- 
perience this thrilling sense of power and energy in working 
our way against the stream. When people say that these 
times are wanting in inspiration, and our calling wanting 
most of all, they talk nonsense. That man is at this very 
moment staking all he has on a single cast; all that he 
holds dearest, the result of a long life, his pride, his honour, 
his happiness ; and there he sits coolly at his desk, writes 
letters about logwood, and examines samples of clover-seed ; 
nay, I believe that he actually laughs within himself." So 
mused Anton, while locking up his desk, and preparing to 
join his colleagues. He found them discussing, over a cup 
of tea, the news of the day, and its probable effect upon 
business, with a pleasant sort of shudder. All agreed that the 
firm must indeed suffer loss, but that they were the men 
to retrieve it sooner than ever was done before. Various 
views were then propounded, till, at length, M. Jordan pro- 
nounced that it was impossible to know beforehand what 
turn things would take ; which profound opinion was 
generally adopted, and the conference broke up. Through 
the thin wall of his room, Anton heard his neighbour 
Baumann put up a fervent prayer for the principal and 
the business ; and he himself worked off his excitement 
by walking up and down till his lamp burned low. 



224 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



It was already late when a servant noiselessly entered, 
and announced that Mr. Schroter wished to speak to him. 
Anton followed in all haste, and found the merchant stand- 
ing before a newly packed trunk, with his portfolio on the 
table, together with that unmistakable symptom of a long 
journey — his great English cigar-case of buffalo-hide. It 
contained a hundred cigars, and had long excited the ad- 
miration of ]\Ir. Specht. Indeed, the whole counting-house 
viewed it as a sort of banner never displayed but on re- 
markable occasions. Sabine stood at the open drawers of 
the writing-table, busily and silently collecting whatever 
the traveller might want. The merchant advanced to meet 
Anton, and kindly apologised for having summoned him so 
late, adding that he had not expected him to be still up. 

When Anton replied that he was far too excited to sleep, 
such a ray of gratitude for his sympathy shone from Sabine's 
eyes, that our hero was mightily moved, and did not trust 
himself to speak. 

The principal, however, smiled ; " You are still young," 
he said ; " composure will come by and by. It will be ne- 
cessary that I go and look after our merchandise to-morrow. 
I hear that the Poles show special consideration to our 
countrymen — possibly they imagine that our government is 
not disaffected towards them. This illusion cannot last 
long ; but there will be no harm in our trying to turn it to 
advantage for the safety of our goods. You have conducted 
the correspondence, and know aU that is to be done for me. 
I shall travel to the frontier, and when there, shall decide 
what steps should next be taken." 

Sabine listened in the utmost excitement, and tried to 
read in her brother's face, whether he was keeping back any- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



225 



thing out of consideration for her. Anton understood it 
all. The merchant was going over the frontier into the 
very heart of the insurrection. 

" Can I not go in your stead?" said he imploringly. 
" I feel indeed that I have hitherto given you no grounds for 
trusting me in so important an affair. But, at least, I will 
exert myself to the utmost, Mr. Schroter." Anton's face 
glowed as he spoke. 

"That is kindly said, and I thank you," replied the princi- 
pal ; " but I cannot accept your offer — the expedition may 
have its difficulties, and as the profits will be mine, it is 
but fair that the trouble should be so too." Anton hung his 
head. " On the contrary, I purpose leaving definite instruc- 
tions with you, in case of my not being able to return the 
day after to-morrow." 

Sabine, who had been anxiously listening, now seized 
her brother's hand, and whispered, "Take him with you!" 

This support gave Anton fresh courage. " If you do not 
choose to send me alone, at least allow me to accompany you 
— possibly I may be of some use ; at least I would most 
gladly be so." 

" Take him with you ! " again implored Sabine. 

Tlie merchant slowly looked from his sister to Anton's 
honest face, which was glowing with youthful zeal, and re- 
pHed : " Be it so, then. If I receive the letters I expect, 
you wHl accompany me to-morrow to the frontier — and 
now, good-night." 

The following morning, Anton, who had thrown himself 
ready dressed on the bed, was awakened by a slight knock. 
" The letters are come, sir." And hurrying into the office, 
he found the principal and JVIr. Jordan already there, en- 

p 



22G 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



gaged in earnest conversation, which the former merely in- 
terrupted for a moment, by the words, " We go ! " Never 
had Anton knocked at so many doors, run so quickly up and 
down stairs, and so heartily shaken the hands of his col- 
leagues, as in the course of the next hour. As he hurried 
along the dim corridor, he heard a slight rustling. Sabine 
stepped towards him, and seized hold of his hand. " Wohl- 
fart, protect my brother!" Anton promised, with inex- 
pressible readiness, to do so ; felt for his loaded pistols, a 
present from Fink, and jumped into the railway carriage, 
with the most blissful feelings a youthful hero could possibly 
have. He was bent on adventure, proud of the confidence 
of his principal, and exalted to the utmost by the tender 
relation into which he had entered with the divinity of the 
firm. He was indeed happy. 

The engine puffed and snorted across the wide plain, like 
a horse from Beelzebub's stables. There were soldiers in 
all the carriages — bayonets and helmets shining every- 
where. At all the stations, crowds of curious inquirers, 
hasty questions and answers, fearful rumours, and marvel- 
lous facts. Anton was glad when they left the railroad and 
the soldiers, and posted on to the frontier in a light car- 
riage. The high-road was quiet, less frequented indeed 
than usual, but when they drew near the border they re- 
peatedly met small detachments of military. The merchant 
did not say anything to Anton about the business in hand, 
but spoke with much animation on every other subject, and 
treated his travelling companion mth confidential cordiality. 
Only he showed an aversion to Anton's pistols, which a 
little damped the latter' s martial ardour; for when at the 
second station, he carefully drew them out of his pocket to 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



227 



examine their condition, Mr. Schroter pointed towards their 
brown muzzles, saying : " I do not think we shall succeed 
in getting back our goods by dint of pocket-pistols. Are 
they loaded?" 

Anton bowed assent, adding, with a last remnant of 
martial vanity, " They are at full cock." 

" Really ! " said the principal, seriously, taking them out 
of Anton's pocket, and then calling to the postilion to hold 
his horses, he coolly shot off both barrels, remarking good- 
naturedly, as he returned the pistols to their owner, " It is 
better to confine ourselves to our accustomed weapons — we 
are men of peace, and only want our own property restored 
to us. If we cannot succeed in convincing others of our 
rights, there is no help for it. Plenty of powder will be 
shot away to no purpose — plenty of efforts without result, 
and expenditure which only tends to impoverish. There 
is no race so little qualified to make progress, and to gain 
civilisation and culture in exchange for capital, as the 
Slavonic. All that those people yonder have in their idle- 
ness acquired, by the oppression of the ignorant masses, 
they waste in foolish diversions. With us, only a few of 
the specially privileged classes act thus, and the nation can 
bear with it if necessary. But there, the privileged classes 
claim to represent the people ! As if nobles and mere 
bondsmen could ever form a state ! They have no more 
capacity for it than that flight of sparrows on the hedge ! 
The worst of it is that we must pay for their luckless 
attempt." 

" They have no middle-class," rejoined Anton proudly. 
" In other words, they have no culture," continued the 
merchant ; and it is remarkable how powerless they are 



228 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



to generate the class which represents civilisation and pro- 
gress, and exalts an aggregate of individual labourers into 
a state." 

" lu the town before us, however," suggested Anton, 
"there is Conrad Gaultier, and the house of the three 
Hildebrands in Galicia as well." 

" AVorthy people," agreed the merchant ; " but they are 
all merely settlers, and the honourable burgher-class feeling 
has no root here, and seldom goes down to a second gene- 
ration. What is here called a citj^, is a mere shadow of 
ours ; and its citizens have hardly any of those qualities 
which with us characterize commercial men — the first class 
in the State." 

"The first?" said Anton, doubtingly. 

" Yes, dear Wohlfart — the first. Originally individuals 
were free, and, in the main, equal ; then came the semi- 
barbarism of the privileged idler, and the labouring bonds- 
man. It is only since the growth of our large towns that 
the world boasts civilized states — only since then is the 
problem solved, which proves that free labour alone makes 
national life noble, secure, and permanent." 

Towards evening our travellers reached the frontier sta- 
tion. It was a smaU village, consisting, in addition to the 
custom-house and the dwellings of the officials, of only a 
few poor cottages and a public-house. On the open space 
between the houses, and round about the village, bivouacked 
two squadrons of cavalry, who had posted themselves along 
the narrow river that defined the border, and who were 
appointed to guard it in company with a detachment of 
riflemen. The public-house presented a scene of wild 
confusion. Soldiers moving to and fro, and sitting cheek- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



229 



by-jowl in the little parlour, gay hussars and green-coats 
camped round the house on chairs, tables, harness, barrels, 
and everything that could by any contrivance be converted 
into a seat. They appeared to Anton so many Messrs. Pix, 
such was the peremptoriness with which they disposed of 
the little inn and its contents. The Jew-landlord received 
the well-kno^\^l merchant with a loud welcome, and his 
zeal was such, that he actually cleared out a small room 
for the travellers, where they could at least spend the night 
alone. 

The merchant had scarcely dismounted, when half a 
dozen men surrounded him with shouts of joy. They were 
the drivers of the wagons that had been recently expedited. 
The oldest of their party related, that when just beyond 
the frontier, they had been induced to make a hasty retreat, 
by the alarming spectacle of a body of armed peasants. 
In turning round, the wheel of the last wagon had 
come off — the driver in his fright had unharnessed the 
horses, and left the wagon. While the delinquent stood 
there, flourishing his hat in the air, and excusing himself 
as well as he could, the officer in command came up, and 
confirmed the story. 

" You may see the wagon on the road, about a hundred 
yards beyond the bridge," he went on to say ; and when 
the merchant begged leave to cross the bridge, he offered 
to send one of his officers with him. 

A young officer belonging to a squadron just returned 
from a patrol, was curbing his fiery steed at the door of 
the tavern. 

"Lieutenant von Rothsattel," called the captain, "ac- 
company the gentlemen beyond the bridge." 



230 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



It was with rapture that Anton heard a name linked 
with so many sweet recollections. He knew at once that 
the rider of the fiery charger could be no other than the 
brother of his lady of the lake. 

The lieutenant, tall and slender, with a delicate mous- 
tache, was as like his sister as a young cavalry officer 
could be to the fairest of all mortal maidens. Anton felt 
at once a warm and respectful regard for him, which was 
perhaps discernible in his bow, for the young gentleman 
acknowledged it by a careless inclination of his small head. 
His horse went prancing on by the side of the merchant 
and his clerk. They hurried to the middle of the bridge, 
and looked eagerly along the road. There lay the colossal 
wagon, like a wounded white elephant resting on one 
knee. 

"A short time ago it had not been plundered," said 
the lieutenant ; "the canvas was stretched quite tightly 
over it : but they have been at it now, for I see a 
corner fluttering," 

"There does not appear to have been much mischief 
done," replied the principal. 

" If you could get over a wheel and a pair of horses, you 
might carry off" the whole affair," replied the lieutenant 
carelessly. " Our men have had a great hankering after it 
all day. They were very anxious to ascertain whether 
there was anything drinkable in it or not. Were it not 
that we are commanded not to cross the borders, it 
would be a mere trifle to bring the wagon here, if the 
commanding officer allowed you to pass the sentinels ; and 
if you could manage those fellows yonder." So saying, 
he pointed to a crowd of peasants, who were camping be- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



231 



hind some stunted willows just out of reach of shot, and 
who had stationed an armed man on the high road as 
sentinel. 

"We will fetch the wagon if the officer in command 
permit us to do so," said the principal. " I hope we may 
find a way of dealing with those people yonder." 

Meanwhile, Anton could not refrain from murmuring ; 
" The whole day long these gentlemen have allowed two 
thousand dollars' worth to lie there on the highway ; they 
have had plenty of time to get back the wagon for us." 

" We must not be unreasonable in our demands upon the 
army," replied the merchant with a smile. " We shall be 
satisfied if they only allow us to rescue our property from 
those boors." And, accordingly, they turned back to 
make their wishes known to the captain. 

"If you can find men and horses, I have nothing to ob- 
ject," replied he. 

As soon as the wagoners were re-assembled, the prin- 
cipal inquired which of them would accompany him, en- 
gaging to make good any harm that might happen to the 
horses. 

After some scratching and shaking of their heads, most 
of them declared their willingness to go. Four horses were 
speedily harnessed — a child's sledge belonging to the land- 
lord produced, a wheel and some levers placed thereon ; and 
then the little caravan set off in the direction of the bridge, 
pursued by the jocular approbation of the soldiers, and ac- 
companied by some of the officers, who showed as much 
interest in the expedition as comported with their martial 
dignity. 

On the bridge, the captain said ; "I wish you success, 



232 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



but unfortunately I am unable to send any of my men to 
assist you." 

" It is better as it is," answered the principal, bowing ; 
" we will proceed to recover our goods like peaceable people, 
and while we do not fear those gentry yonder, we do not 
wish to provoke them. Be so good, Mr. Wohlfart, as to leave 
your pistols behind you ; we must show these armed men 
that we have nothing to do with war and its apparatus." 

Anton had replaced his pistols in his pocket, whence ^ 
they peeped out with an air of defiance, but now he gave 
them to a soldier called by Lieutenant von Rothsattel. 
And so they crossed the bridge ; at the end of which, the 
lieutenant reluctantly reined up his charger, muttering, 
" These grocers march into the enemy's country before us ;" 
while the captain called out, " Shoidd your persons be 
in danger, I shall not consider it any departure from duty 
to send Lieutenant Rothsattel and a few soldiers to your 
aid !" The lieutenant rushed back and gave the word of 
command to his troop, which was not far off, to sit still, 
and then he dashed again to the end of the bridge, and 
watched with great interest and warlike impatience the pro- 
gress of the grocers, as he called them. To his and his 
company's honour, be it here said, that they all alike wished 
the poor civilians a warm reception, and some serious in- 
convenience, that they might have a right to interfere, and 
cut and hack a little on their behalf. 

Meanwhile, the march of the merchants into the enemy's 
country had nothing very imposing about it ; lighting 
his cigar, and walking with a brisk step, the principal 
went on, Anton close by his side, and behind them, three 
stout wagoners with the horses. "When they had got 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



233 



within about thirty yards of certain peasants in white 
smock-frocks, these brandished their weapons, and cried out 
to them in Polish to halt. 

The principal raising his voice, addressed them in their 
own tongue, desiring that they would call their leader. 

Accordingly, some of the savages began by wild gesticu- 
lations to commimicate with their companions at a dis- 
tance, while others held their weapons in readiness, and 
, aimed, as Anton remarked without any particular satisfac- 
tion, pretty exactly at him. Meanwhile, the leader of 
the band advanced with long strides. He wore a blue coat 
with coloured lace, a square red cap, trimmed with gTey 
fur, and he carried a long wild-duck gun in his hand. He 
seemed a dark-hued fellow, of a formidable aspect, enhanced 
by a long black moustache falling down on each side of 
his mouth. As soon as he came near, the merchant ad- 
dressed him in a loud voice, and rather imperfect Polish. 
" We are strangers ! I am the owner of that wagon yonder, 
and am come to fetch it ; tell your people to help me, and 
I will give them a good gratuity." At which word all the 
weapons were reverentially lowered. The chief of the 
krakuse, or irregulars, now placed himself pathetically in the 
middle of the highway, and began a long oration, accom- 
panied by much action, of which Anton understood very 
little, and his principal not all, but which being interpreted 
by one of the wagoners, was found to signify, that the 
leader much regretted his inability to seiTe the gentlemen, 
as he had received orders from the corps stationed behind 
him to keep watch over the wagon, till the horses should 
arrive which were to take it to the nearest town. 

The merchant merely shook his head, and replied in a 



234 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



tone of quiet command; " That won't do ! The wagon is 
mine, and I must carry it off. I cannot wait the permis- 
sion of your expected wagoners." And, putting his hand 
into his pocket, he displayed to the owner of the blue coat 
half a dozen shining dollars, unseen by the rest. " So much 
for you, and as much for your people." The leader looked 
at the dollars, scratched his head vehemently, and turned 
his cap round and round ; the result of which was, that he 
at last arrived at the conclusion that since things stood 
thus, the worthy gentleman might drive off his wagon. 

The procession now triumphantly proceeded ; the drivers 
seized the levers, and, by their united eflforts, raised the 
fallen side, detached the fragments of the broken wheel, 
put on the new one, and harnessed the horses ; and all this 
with the active assistance of some of the peasants, and the 
brotherly support of their commandant, who himsehP wielded 
a lever. Then the horses were set off with a good will, and 
the wagon rolled on towards the bridge, amidst the loud 
acclamations of the krakuse, which were perhaps intended 
to drown a dissentient voice in his innermost breast. 

Go on with the wagon," said the merchant to Anton ; 
and when the latter hesitated to leave his principal alone 
with the boors, the command was still more peremptorily 
repeated. And so the wagon slowly progressed towards the 
frontier; and Anton already heard from a distance the 
laughing greetings of the soldiers. 

Meanwhile the merchant remained in animated conver- 
sation with the peasant band, and at length parted on the 
best possible terms with the insurgents' leader, who, with 
true Slavonic politeness, acted the part of landlord on the 
public road, and, cap in hand, accompanied the travellers 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 235 

till within gun-shot of the military on the bridge. The 
principal got into the wagon, underwent the warlike cere- 
monial of "Halt!" &c., on the part of the sentinels, and 
received the smiling congratulations of the captain, while 
the lieutenant said satirically to Anton, " You have had no 
cause to lament the w^ant of your pocket-pistols." 

" xA.ll the better," answered Anton ; "it was a tame 
aflair indeed. The poor devils had stolen nothing but a 
small cask of rum ! " 

An hour later, the travellers were sitting with the oflficers 
of both regiments, in the little tavern parlour, over a bottle 
of old tokay, which the host had disinterred from the 
lowest depths of his cellar. Not the least happy of the 
party was Anton. For the first time in his life he had 
experienced one of the small perils of war, and was on the 
whole pleased with the part he had played ; and now he 
was sitting by a young soldier, whom he was prepared to 
admire to the utmost, and had the privilege of offering him 
his cigars, and discussing with him the day's adventures. 

" The boors pointed their gims at you at first," said the 
young nobleman, carelessly cui'ling his moustache; "you 
must have found that a bore." 

" Not much of one," replied Anton as coolly as he could. 
" For a moment I felt startled as I saw the guns aimed at 
me, and behind them men with scythes, pantomiming the 
cutting off of heads. It struck me uncomfortably at first, 
that all the muzzles should point so directly at my face. 
Afterwards, I had to work away at the wagon, and thought 
no more about it. And when on our return, each of our 
wagoners affirmed that the guns had pointed at him and 
no one else, I came to the conclusion that this many-sided- 



236 DEBIT AND CREDIT. 

ness must be part of the idiosyncrasy of guns — a sort of 
optical unmannerliness that does not mean much." 

" We should soon have cut you out if the peasants had 
been in earnest," replied the lieutenant benevolently. " Your 
cigars are remarkably good." 

Anton was rejoiced to hear it, and filled his neighbour's 
glass. And so he entertained himself, and looked at his 
principal, who seemed to be unusually inclined to converse 
with the gay gentlemen around him, on all subjects con- 
nected with peace and war. Anton remarked that he 
treated the officers with a degree of formal politeness, which 
considerably checked the free and easy tone which they had 
at first adopted. The conversation soon became general ; and 
all listened with attention to the merchant while he spoke 
of the disturbed districts, with which former journeys had 
made him familiar, and sketched some of the leaders of the 
insun-ection. Young Von Rothsattel alone, to Anton's great 
distress, did not seem to like the attention lent by his com- 
rades to the civilian, nor the lion's share of the conversa- 
tion conceded him. He threw himself carelessly back on 
his chair, looked absently at the ceiling, played with his 
sword-hilt, and uttered curt observations, intended to denote 
that he was not a little bored. When the captain men- 
tioned that he expected their commander-in-chief to arrive 
in the morning, and the merchant said in reply, "Your 
colonel will not be here till to-morrow evening, so at least 
he said to me when I met him at the station," the demon 
of pride in the young officer's breast became uncontrollable, 
and he rudely said, "You know our colonel then? I sup- 
pose he buys his tea and sugar from you." 

" At all events he used to do so," politely replied the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



237 



merchant ; " indeed, as a younger man, I have sometimes 
weighed out coffee for him myself." 

A certain degree of embarrassment now arose among the 
officers; and one of the elder attempted, according to his 
light, to rectify the intentional rudeness, by saying some- 
thing about a most highly-respectable establishment where 
civilians or military alike might procure, with perfect satis- 
faction, whatever they needed. 

" I thank you, captain, for the confidence you repose in 
my house," replied the merchant with a smile ; " and I am 
indeed proud that it should have become respectable through 
my own active exertions, and those of my firm." 

" Lieutenant Rothsattel, you head the next patrol ; it is 
time that you should set out," said the captain. Accord- 
ingly, with clink and clatter, the lieutenant rose. 

" Here comes our landlord with a new bottle on which 
he sets great value ; it is the best wine in his cellar. May 
not Herr von Rothsattel take a glass of it before he goes to 
watch over our night's rest?" inquired the merchant with 
calm politeness. 

The young man haughtily thanked him, and clattered 
out of the room. Anton could have thrashed his new 
favourite with all his heart. 

It was now late ; and Anton saw, with some astonish- 
ment, that the mercnant still continued with the utmost 
politeness to play the host, and to evince a pleasure in 
every fresh experience of the tokay, not easy to reconcile 
with the purpose of his journey. At last another bottle 
having been uncorked, and the captain having taken and 
commended a fresh cigar of the merchant's, the latter casually 
observed, "I wish to travel to the insurgent capital to- 
morrow, and request your permission, if it be necessary." 



238 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



<' You do !" cried all the ofl&cers round the table. 

"I must!" said the merchant gravely, and proceeded 
briefly to state the reasons for his resolve. 

The captain shook his head. " It is true," said he, 
" that the exact terms in which my orders are couched, 
leave it optional whether I bar the frontier against all 
alike ; but yet the chief aim of our occupying this position, 
is the closing up of the disturbed district." 

" Then I must make known my wishes to the com- 
mander-in-chief ; but this will delay me more than a day, 
and this delay will very probably defeat the whole object of 
my journey. As you have kindly informed me, there still 
exists a certain degree of order amongst the insurgents, but 
it is impossible to say how long this may last. Now, it 
is upon the existence of this very order that I must depend 
for the recovery of my property, for I can only get the 
loaded wagons out of the town with the consent of the 
revolutionary party." 

" And do you hope to obtain it 1 " 

"I must endeavour to do so," was the reply; "at all 
events, I shall oppose might and main the plundering and 
destroying of my goods." 

The captain mused awhile. "Your plans," said he, 
" place me in a strait ; if any harm should befall you, which 
is, I fear, only too likely, I shall be reproached for having 
allowed you to cross the frontier. Can nothing persuade 
you to give up this undertaking ?" 

" Nothing !" said the merchant. " Nothing but the law 
of the land." 

" Are the wagons, then, of such consequence to you, that 
you are willing to risk your life for them?" asked the 
captain rather morosely. 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



239 



" Yes, captain, of as much consequence as the doing 
your duty is to you. To me their safety involves far more 
than mere mercantile profit. I must cross the frontier un- 
less prevented by a positive prohibition. That I should not 
actually resist, but I should do all in my power to have an 
exception made in my favour." 

" Very good," said the captain ; " I will lay no hind- 
rance in your way ; you will give me your word of honour, 
that you will disclose nothing whatever as to the strength 
of our position, the arrangement of our troops, or as to 
what you have heard of our intended movements." 

" I pledge my word," said the merchant. 

" Your character is sufficient guarantee that your inten- 
tions in taking this journey are upright ; but officially, I 
could wish to see the papers connected with it, if you have 
them by you ?" . ^ 

" Here they are," said the merchant, in the same busi- 
ness-like tone. "There is my passport for a year, here the 
bill of goods of the Polish seller, the copies of my letters 
to the custom-house officer, and the replies to them." 

The captain glanced over the papers, and gave them back. 
" You are a brave man, and I heartily wish you success !" 
said he in a dignified tone. " How do you mean to 
travel?" 

" With post-horses. If I cannot hire I shall buy, and 
drive them myself. Our host will let me have a carriage, 
and I shall set out to-morrow morning, as I might cause 
more suspicion travelling by night." 

" Very well, then, I shall see you again at break of day. 
I believe that we ourselves are to move over into the 
enemy's country in three days' time; and if I hear no 



240 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



tidings from you in the meantime, I shall look you out in 
the conquered city. We must disperse, gentlemen; we have 
already sat here too long." 

The officers then retired with clank of arms, and Anton 
and his principal remained alone with the empty bottles. 
The merchant opened the window, and then turning to 
Anton, who had listened to the foregoing conversation in 
the greatest excitement, began, " We must part here, dear 
Wohlfart " 

Before he could finish his sentence, Anton caught hold 
of his hand, and said, with tears in his eyes, " Let me go 
with you, do not send me back to the firm. I should re- 
proach myself intolerably my whole life through, if I had 
left you on this journey." 

" It would be useless, perhaps unwise, that you should 
accompany me. I can perfectly do alone all that has to 
be done ; and if there be any risk to run, which, however, 
I do not believe, your presence could not protect me, and 
I should only have the painful feeling of having endangered 
another for my sake." 

" Still, I should be very grateful to you if you would 
take me with you," urged Anton ; " and Miss Sabine wished 
it too," added he, wisely keeping his strongest argument for 
the last. 

" She is a terrible girl," said the merchant, with a smile. 
Well then, so let it be. We will go together ; call the 
landlord, and let us make all our travelling arrangements." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



241 



CHAPTER XX. 



TT was still night when Anton stepped over the threshold 
of the tavern. A thick cloud hung over the plain. A 
red glare on the horizon marked the district through which 
the travellers had to pass. The mist of night covered, with 
a grey veil, a dark mass on the ground. Anton went 
nearer, and found that it consisted of men, women, and 
children, cowering on the earth, pale, hungry, and emaciated. 
" They are from the village on the other side of the bound- 
ary," explained an old watchman, who stood wrapped in his 
cavalry cloak. " Their village was on fire ; they had run 
into the forest, and during the night they came down to 
the river, stretching out their hands, and crying piteously 
for bread. As they were mostly women and children, our 
captain allowed them to cross, and has had a few loaves 
cut up for them. They are half- famished. After them 
came larger bodies, all crying * Bread ! bread ! ' and wring- 
ing their hands. We fired off a few pistol-shots over their 
heads, and soon scattered them." 

" Ha!" said Anton, " this is a poor prospect for us 
and our journey ! But what will become of these unfor- 
tunate creatures ?" 

" They are only border rascals," said the watchman 
Q 



242 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



sootliiiigly. " Half the year they smuggle and swill, the 
other half they starve. They are freezing a little just 
now." 

" Could one not have a caldron full of soup made for 
them?" inquired Anton compassionately, putting his hand 
into his pocket. 

" Why soup V replied the other coldly ; " a drink of 
brandy would please the whole fry better. Over there they 
aU drink brandy, even the child at the breast ; if you are 
inclined to spend something upon them in that way, I'll 
give it out, not forgetting a loyal old soldier at the same 
time." 

" I will request the landlord to have something warm 
got ready for them, and you will have the goodness to see 
that it is all right." And again Anton's hand went into his 
pocket, and the watchman promised to keep his warlike 
heart open to compassion. 

An hour later the travellers were rolling along in an open 
britsclia. The merchant drove ; Anton sat behind him, and 
looked eagerly out into the surrounding landscape, where, 
through darkness and mist, a few detached objects were 
just beginning to appear. When they had driven about 
two hundred yards, they heard a Polish call. The merchant 
stopped, and a single man cautiously approached. " Come 
up, my good friend," said the merchant ; " sit here by me." 
The stranger politely took off his cap, and swung himself 
up to the driving-box. He turned out to be the chief 
krakuse of the day before, — the man with the droopmg 
moustache. 

" Keep an eye on him," said the merchant in English 
to Anton ; " he shall serve us as a safe-conduct, and be 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



243 



paid for it too; but if ho touches ine, hiy hohl of him from 
behind." 

Anton took his despised pistols out of an old leatliern 
pouch on one side of the carriage, and, in the sight of the 
krakuse, arranged them ostentatiously in the pocket of his 
paletot. But the latter only smiled, and soon sho\yed 
liimsclf a creature of a friendly and social nature, nodding 
confidentially to both travellers, chinking some mouthsfui 
out of Anton's travelling liask, trying to keep up, over his 
left shoulder, a conversation with him, calling him " your 
Grace " in broken German, and giving him to understand 
that he, too, smoked, though he did not happen to have 
any tobacco. At last he requested the honour of driving 
the gentlemen. 

In this manner they passed a gi'oup of fallen houses, 
which lay on a flat close to a marsh, looking like giant 
fungi that had shot up on a malarian soil, when they sud- 
denly found themselves surrounded by a band of insurgents. 
It was a general levy, such as they had seen the day be- 
fore. Tliere were flails in abundance, a few scythes, old 
muskets, linen smock-frocks, a strong smell of spirits and 
wild staring eyes. This troop at once seized the horses 
by the bridles, and quick as lightning began to unharness 
them. The krakuse now sprang up lion -like from his seat, 
and displayed, in his Polish tongue, a vast amount of 
eloquence, aided by much gesticulation with hands and feet. 
He declared that these gentlemen were great noblemen, v.dio 
were travelling to the capital that they might speak with 
the Government, and that it would cost the head of every 
man who presumed to pull a hair out of one of their horses' 
tails. Tliis speech provoked several animated replies, dur- 



244 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



ing which, some clenclied their fists, and some took off their 
<;aps. Upon that, the driver began a still more powerful 
oration, setting before the patriots a prospective quartering 
if they even ventured to look askance at the heads of the 
horses. This had the effect of diminishing the number of 
clenched fists, and increasing that of tlie doffed caps. At 
length the merchant put an end to the whole scene by sud- 
denly flogging the horses, and thus compelling the last 
recusants to jump aside as fast as they could. The horses 
galloped oft', loud interjections were heard in the distance, 
and a few shots passed harmlessly over the heads of the 
travellers, probably fired out of a general enthusiasm for 
fatherland, rather than with any definite purpose. 

So the hours passed on. They not unfrequently met 
bands of armed peasantry screaming and brandishing their 
cudgels, or else following, with bent heads and hymn- 
singing, a priest who bore a Church-banner displayed. The 
travellers were sometimes, indeed, stopped and threatened, 
but at other times saluted with the utmost reverence, 
especially Anton, who, sitting as he did behind, was taken 
for the most important personage. 

At length they approached a larger village, the bands 
grew closer, the uproar greater, and here and there a uni- 
form, a cockade or a bayonet appeared amongst the smock- 
frocks. Here, too, the driver began to show symptoms of 
disquiet, and announced to the merchant that he could not 
take them any further, and that they must report themselves 
to the leader in command. To this Mr. Schroter made no 
objection, but paid the driver, and stopped the carriage. 

A young man with a blue head-piece, and a red and 
white scarf about his waist, stepped forward, obliged the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



245 



travellers to dismount, and with a great display of zeal, led 
them to the chief. The merchant still held the reins in 
liis hand, and whispered to Anton that he was on no ac- 
count to lose sight of the carriage. Anton pretended the 
utmost unconcern, and pressed a coin into the hand of the 
friendly kralaise, who had crept behind the carriage, that 
he might go and get the horses a bundle of hay. 

The sentiy was in a house whose thatched roof had been 
dignified by the white- washing of the walls. A few mus- 
kets and guns leant up against it, watched by a youthful 
volunteer in blue coat and red cap. Kear at hand sat the 
commanding officer, whose flat face was surmounted by an 
immense white plume, and whose person was adorned by 
an enormous silk scarf, and a sword with elaborate hilt. 
This dignitary was considerably excited when he beheld the 
strangers ; he clapped his hat more firmly on his head, 
stroked his unkempt beard, and began to give audience. 
After a few preliminary remarks, the travellers told him 
that they had weighty business to transact with the heads of 
the government. They refused, however, to give any account 
of its purport. This statement wounded the dignity of the 
authority before them. He made harsh allusions to suspi- 
cious characters and spies, and called to his guard to stand 
to their arms. Instantly five youths in blue caps rushed 
out of the house, ranged themselves in order, and were 
commanded to hold their guns in readiness. Involuntarily, 
Anton sprang between them and his principal. Meanwhile, 
the man of the giant sword, on seeing that the merchant 
still stood quietly by the post, round which he had fastened 
the reins, changed his murderous intent ; contenting him- 
self with assuring him that he considered him a very 



246 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



dangerous character, and was much inclined to shoot him as 
a traitor. 

The merchant shrugged his shoidders, and said, with calm 
politeness, " You are entirely mistaken as to the object of 
our journey. You cannot seriously believe us to be spies, 
for we have just been brought to you by one of your own 
people, in order that we might obtain from your kindness 
a convoy to the capital. I must once more request you not 
to detain us, as our business with the Government is of a 
pressing nature, and I shall be obliged to make you respon- 
sible for all unnecessary delay." This address led to another 
volley of oaths on the part of the man in authority, who 
snorted violent defiance against the travellers, di-ank ofi" a 
large glass of brandy, and finally came to a decision. He 
called three of his men, and desired them to take their seats 
in the carriage, and to convey it to the capital. A bundle of 
fresh straw v>"c\s throTVTi in, two youths ^Yith arms in their 
hands placed themselves behind the travellers, while a white- 
frocked peasant sat on the box, took the reins, and indiffer- 
ently drove the whole cargo, suspicious characters, patriots 
and all, at a gallop towards the capital. 

" Oiu" condition has changed for the worse," said Anton. 
" Five men in this little carriage, and the poor horses tired 
already." 

" I told you," replied the merchant, " that our journey 
would have some inconveniences. Men are never more 
troublesome than when they play at being soldiers. In 
other respects, this guard over us does no harm ; at least, 
with such an escort, we are sure to be admitted into the 
city." 

It was evening when they reached the capital. A red 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



247 



glare in the sky showed them their goal while they were 
still far from it. As they aiDproached, they met munerous 
companies of armed men moving in and out. Next came 
a long detention at the gates — an interchange of questions 
and answers — an examination of the travellers by the aid 
of lanterns and pine torches, angry looks, and even intelli- 
gible threats, and finally, a long drive through the streets 
of the old capital. Sometimes all around them was still 
as death : sometimes a wild cry resounded from the crowd, 
all the more alarming because the w^ords w^re not under- 
stood. 

At length the driver turned into a square, and stopped 
before a handsome house. The travellers were surrounded 
and pushed up a broad staircase by a crowd of gay uniforms, 
laced coats, and clean smock-frocks. Next they were 
thrust into a large apartment, and placed before a gentle- 
man wearing white silk gloves, wdio looked into a written 
report, and briefly informed them that, according to the 
report of the commandant at the station, they were sus- 
pected of being spies, and w^re to undergo a court-martial. 
The merchant at once broke out in high displeasure : "I 
am sorry that your informant should have told you a great 
falsehood, for we have undertaken this journey on the high- 
way and in broad daylight, for the express purpose of 
speaking to your governors. The horses and carriage 
wdiich brought me here are both mine ; and it was an un- 
called-for act of politeness on the part of your commandant 
to furnish me with such an escort. I wish to see the gen- 
tleman in command here, as soon as possible; it is to him 
alone that I mean to impart the motive of my journey ; be 
so good therefore as to hand him my passport." 



248 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



The official examined the passport, and looking at Anton, 
proceeded to inquire with somewhat more consideration : 
" But this gentleman 1 He has the appearance of an officer 
in your army." 

" I am a clerk of Mr. Schroter's," returned Anton, with 
a bow ; "and out and out a civilian." 

" Wait awhile," said the young man superciliously, going 
with the passport into a neighbouring room. 

As he remained away some time, and no one interfered 
with the travellers, they sat down on a bench, and tried to 
appear as unconcerned as possible. Anton first cast an 
anxious glance at his principal, who was looking down 
gloomily, and then gazed about him in amazement. The 
room in which they were was lofty, and the ceiling much 
ornamented, but the walls were dirty and smoke-stained ; 
tables, chairs, and benches stood about in confusion, and 
seemed as if just brought in from the nearest tavern. A 
few writers bent over their papers ; while soldiers sat 
or lay along the walls, asleep or talking loudly, several of 
them in French. A room like this, dimly lighted, was not 
calculated to make a cheerful impression upon Anton, who 
whispered to the merchant, " If revolutions in general look 
like this, they are ugly things." 

"They always destroy, and seldom recreate," was the 
reply. " I am afraid that this room is an emblem of the 
whole town : the painted coat-of-arms on the ceiling, and 
the dirty bench on which we are sitting — when such con- 
trasts as these are brought into juxtaposition, it is enough 
to make a sober-minded man cross himself in horror. The 
nobles and the people are bad enough, taken separately, 
when they each try their hands at government ; but when 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



249 



they unite, they are sure to bring down the house that 
holds them." 

"The nobles are the most troublesome," said Anton. 
" Commend me to our krakuse ; he was a polite insurgent, 
and knew the value of a half-dollar; but these gentlemen 
seem to have no business notions at all." 

" Let us wait a little," said the principal. 

A quarter of an hour had passed, when a young man, 
tall in stature, and stately in aspect, followed by the white- 
gloved gentleman, politely approached the merchant, saying 
so loudly that even the sleepers could hardly fail to hear, 
" I rejoice to see you here, and have indeed been expecting 
it ; have the goodness to follow me with your companion." 

" By Jove, we are looking up!" thought Anton. 

They followed their majestic guide into a small corner 
room, which was evidently the boudoir of the quarters, for it 
contained an ottoman, easy-chairs, and a handsome writing- 
table. Different uniforms and articles of dress were care- 
lessly thrown upon the furniture ; and on the table lay, in 
the midst of papers, a pair of double-barrelled pocket-pistols, 
and a large seal richly set in gold. 

While Anton was noticing that the whole room was very 
elegant, but, at the same time, very untidy, the young chief 
turned to the merchant and said, with somewhat more re- 
serve and less amenity, "You have, through a misunder- 
standing, been exposed to some rudeness, as is indeed often 
unavoidable in troubled times. Your escort has confirmed 
your statements. I now beg you to impart to me the 
reason of your visit." 

The merchant accordingly briefly but precisely explained 
the purpose of his journey, named those men in the place 



250 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



witli whom he Avas connected in business, and appealed to 
them to ratify his statements. 

"I know both those gentlemen," answered the oflBcer 
carelessly. Then looking fixedly at the merchant, he asked, 
after a pause, " Have you nothing further to communicate?" 

Tlie principal said he had not; but the other raj^idly 
continued, " I quite understand that our peculiar position 
prevents your government from treating with us directly, 
and that, in the event of your being charged with a com- 
mission, you must proceed with the utmost caution." 

Here the merchant hastily intermpted him. "Before 
you say more, I again assure you, as a man of honour, that 
I am come merely on my own business, and that my busi- 
ness is only what I have already stated. But as I conclude 
from your words, as well as from much that I have heard 
on my way hither, that you take me for a delegate, I 
feel constrained to tell you that I never could have been 
charged with any commission such as you seem to expect, 
its very existence being an utter impossibility." 

The noble looked grave, and said after a moment's silence, 
"A^ery well, you shall not suffer on that account. The 
wish that you express is so singular, that it would be im- 
possible, in the common course of things, to grant it. If 
we are not permitted to consider you a friend, the rules of 
war command us to deal with you and yours as enemies. 
But the men of my nation have ever possessed, in taking 
up arms, the rare virtue of tnisting to the virtue of others, 
as well as of acting nobly, even when they could reckon 
upon no gi'atitude in return. Be assured that I will, as far 
as in me lies, assist you to recover your property." 

So said the nobleman with self-conscious dignity; and 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



251 



Auton was keenly alive to the true nobility of the words, 
though too thoroughly a man of business to give himself up 
to the impression they made, his budding enthusiasm being 
frost-bitten by a very matter-of-fact thought : " He pro- 
mises to help us, and yet he is not quite convinced that 
the property we wish to carry off is of right our own." 

"I am not, alas! so absolute," continued the chief, "as 
to be able to gratify you at once. However, I hope in the 
morning to funiish you with a pass for your wagons. First 
of all, t]y to find out where your property now is, and I 
will send one of my officers with you as a protection. The 
rest to-morrow." 

With these words, the travellers were courteously dis- 
missed ; and as Anton went out, he saw the officer wearily 
throw himself back into an easy-chair, and with bent head 
begin to play with the trigger of his pistols. 

A slight youth, v.dth a large scarf, almost a child in 
years, but of a most noble bearing, accompanied our friends- 
As they left the house, they were politely saluted by several 
present, and it was plain that the antechamber still believed 
in their diplomatic character. 

The officer inquired whether he should accompany the 
gentlemen, as it was his duty not to lose sight of them. 

"Is this by way of protection or surveillance?" inquired 
Anton, who now felt himself in good spirits. 

" You will give me no occasion, I am sure, to exercise the 
latter," returned the small warrior in exquisite French. 

" No," said the merchant, looking kindly at the j^outh ; 
" but we shall weary you, for we have yet to get through a 
good deal of uninteresting and commonplace business this 
evening." 



252 



DEBIT AJ^D CREDIT. 



" I am only doing my duty/' replied their escort, with 
some haughtiness, "in accompanying you wherever you 
wish." 

" And in order to do ours, we must make all the haste 
we can," said the merchant. And so they traversed the 
streets of t<iie capital. Night had set in, and the confusion 
and bustle seemed sadder still under her cloak. Crow^ls 
of the lowest of the populace, patrols of military, bands of 
fugitive peasantry jostled each other, snatching, shrieking, 
cursing. Many windows were illuminated, and their bril- 
liance cast a shadowless, ghostly glare over the streets. Thick 
red clouds rolled above the roofs of the houses, for one of 
the suburbs was on fire, and the wind blew swarms of 
golden sparks and burning splinters over the heads of the 
travellers. Meanwhile the bells of the churches kept up a 
monotonous tolling. The strangers hurried silently along; 
the imperious tones of their escort always making way for 
them throu^ih the most unruly throng. At length they 
reached the house of the agent of their firm. It w-as shut 
up, and they had to knock long and loud before a window 
was opened, and a piteous voice heard, asking wdio was there. 

When they entered, the agent ran to meet them, wring- 
ing his hands, and tearfully falling on the merchant's neck. 
The presence of the young insurgent prevented him from 
expressing his feelings. He threw open the nearest door, 
and, in lamentable tones, apologized for the exceeding dis- 
order in which the room was. Chests and coff"ers were 
being packed up ; male and female servants were running 
to and fro, hiding silver candlesticks here, thrusting in silver 
spoons there. Meanwhile, the master of the house never 
left off wringing his hands, lamenting his misfortunes, and 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



253 



those of the firm, welcoming, and, in the same breath, 
regretting the arrival of the principal, and every now and 
then assuring the young officer, with choking voice, that he 
too was a patriot, and that it was only owing to an unac- 
countable mistake on the part of one of the maids that the 
cockade had been taken off his hat. It was plain that the 
man and his whole family had quite lost their wits. 

The merchant had much trouble before he could get him 
into a corner, and hear some business details. It appeared 
that the wagons had arrived in town on the very day that 
the insurrection broke out. Through the foresight of one of 
the wagoners, they had been taken into the great courtyard 
of a remote inn, but as to what had become of them since 
then, the agent knew nothing. 

After some further conversation, the merchant said, " We 
shall not claim your hospitality to-night; we shall sleep 
wherever our wagons are." All the persuasions of the 
agent were peremptorily rejected. 

This worthy but weak man seemed really distressed at the 
new danger into which his friend was determined to run. 

" I shall call you up early," said the merchant, as he 
left ; "I purpose setting out to-morrow with my wagons, 
but first I wish to make a few, as you know, necessary 
visits to our customers, and to have your company during 
them." The agent promised to do his best by daylight. 

Again our travellers went forth into the night, accom- 
panied by the Pole, who had scornfully listened to the half- 
whispered conversation. As they went along the street, 
the principal angrily throwing away his cigar, said to 
Anton : — 

" Our friend will be of little use to us, he is helpless as 



254 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



a child. In the beginning of the disturbance, he neglected 
to do his duty ; to collect money, and seek for reimburse- 
ment." 

" And now," said Anton sorrowfully, " no one will be 
inclined to jmy or reimburse us." 

" And yet we must bring this about to-morrow, and you 
shall help me to do so. By heaven, these warlike convul- 
sions are, in themselves, inconvenient enough to trade with- 
out this addition ; paralysing as they do all useful activity, 
which is the only thing that prevents us from becoming 
mere animals. But if a man of business allows himself to 
be more crushed than is absolutely unavoidable, he does an 
injury to civilisation — an injury for which there is no com- 
pensation." 

They had now reached a part of the town where empty 
streets, and the silence of the grave immediately at hand, 
only enhanced the horrors of the distant clamour, and the 
red glare in the sky. At length they stopped before a low 
building with a large gateway. Entering, they looked into 
the bar, a dirty room with blackened rafters, in which loud- 
voiced and brandy-drinking patriots clustered on bench and 
table. The young officer called for the landlord. A fat 
figure with a red face appeared. 

" In the name of the Government, rooms for myself and 
my companions," said the young man. The host sullenly 
took up a bundle of rusty keys, and a tallow candle, and 
led them to an upper floor, where he opened the door of a 
damp room, and morosely declared that he had no other 
for them. 

" Bring us supper and a bottle of your best wine," said 
the merchant ; " we pay well, and at once." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



255 



This announcement occasioned a visible improvement in 
the mood of the fat landlord, who even made an unsuccess- 
ful attempt to be polite. The merchant next asked for the 
wagons and wagoners. These questions were evidently un- 
welcome. At first, Boniface pretended to know nothing 
about them, declaring that there were a great many wagons 
coining and going in his court-yard, and that there were 
several wagoners too, but that he did not know them. 

It was in vain that the merchant tried to make him im- 
derstand the object of his coming ; the landlord remained 
obtuse, and was about to relapse into his former morose- 
ness, when the young Pole came forward and informed 
Mr. Schrciter that this was not the way of dealing with such 
people. He then faced the landlord, called him all manner 
of hard names, and declared that he would arrest and carry 
him off on the spot, unless he at once gave the most exact 
information. 

The landlord looked timidly at the officer, and begged to 
be allowed to retire, and send up one of the wagoners. 

Soon a lanky figure with a brown felt hat came lumber- 
ing up stairs, started at the sight of the merchant, and at 
last announced, with pretended cheerfulness, that there he 
was. 

" AVhere are the wagons ? where are the bills of lading ? " 

The wagons were in the court-yard. The bills were 
reluctantly produced from the dirty leather purse of the 
w^agoner. 

You guarantee me that your load remains complete and 
undisturbed 1 " asked the merchant. 

The felt hat ungraciously replied, that he could do no- 
thing of the kind. The horses had been unharnessed, and 



256 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



hid in a secret stable, that they might not be confiscated 
by the Government ; as to the fate of the wagons, he coiild 
neither prevent nor ascertain it, and all responsibility ceased 
in troublous times like these. 

" We are in a den of thieves," said the merchant to his 
escort ; " I must request your assistance in bringing these 
])eople to reason." 

Now, bringing people to reason was just what the young 
Pole believed to be his speciality, so, with a smile, he took 
a pistol in one hand, and said aside to Anton, "Do as I, 
and have the goodness to follow me." Next he seized the 
wagoner by the throat, and dragged him down the stair. 
" Where is the landlord ? " cried he in the most formidable 
tone he could raise. " The dog of a landlord and a lantern ! " 
The lantern being brought, he drove the whole pack — the 
strangers, the fat landlord, the captured wagoner, and all 
others assembled by the noise, before him into the court- 
yard. Arrived there, he placed himself and his prisoner in 
the centre of the circle, bestowed a few more injurious 
epithets upon the landlord, rapped the wagoner on the head 
with his pistol, and then courteously observed in French to 
the merchant : " This fellow's skull sounds remarkably 
hollow ; w^hat next do you require from the boobies ? " 

" Have the goodness to summon the wagoners." 

" Good," said the Pole ; " and then ? " 

" Then I will examine the freight of the wagons, if it be 
possible to do so in the dark." 

" Everything is possible," said the Pole, " if you like to 
take the trouble to search through the old canvas in the 
night. But I should be inclined to advise a bottle of 
Sauteme and a few hours' repose instead. In times like 



DEBIT AIJD CREDIT. 



257 



these, one should not lose an opportunity of refreshing 
one's-self." 

" I should prefer to inspect the wagons at once," said 
the merchant with a smile, " if you have no objection to 
it." 

" I am on duty," replied the Pole, " therefore, let's to 
work at once ; there are plenty of hands here to hold lights 
for you. — You confounded rascals," continued he in Polish, 
again cuffing the wagoner, and threatening the landlord, 
" I will carry you all off together, and have a court-martial 
held upon you, if you do not instantly bring all the drivers 
belonging to this gentleman into my presence. How many 
of them ? " inquired he in French from the merchant. 

" There are fourteen wagons," was the reply. 

" There must be fourteen wagoners," thundered the Pole 
again to the people ; "the devil shall fly away with you 
all if you do not instantly produce them." With the help 
of an old domestic servant, a dozen of the drivers were at 
length brought forward, two, however, were in no way to 
be recovered, and finally, the landlord confessed that they 
had gone to join the patriots. 

The young Pole did not seem to attach much value to 
this instance of patriotism. Turning to the merchant, he 
said : " Here you have the men, now see to the freight ; if 
a single article be found wanting, I will have the whole of 
these fellows tried by court-martial." Then he carelessly 
sat down on the pole of a carriage, and looked at the points 
of his polished boots, which had got a good deal bemired. 

A number of lanterns and some torches were now brought, 
and after a few encouraging words from the merchant, the 
wagoners proceeded to roll away some empty carts, and to 



258 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



open out a passage to their own goods. Most of these men 
had been employed by him before, and knew him and Anton 
personally ; some of them proved themselves trustworthy 
and obliging, and while Mr. Schroter was cross-questioning 
the most intelligent of their number, Anton hastened to 
ascertain, as well as he could, the condition of the freight, 
which mostly consisted of wool and tallow. Some wagons 
were untouched ; one was entirely unloaded, and many 
had lost their canvas covering, and been otherwise plun- 
dered. The merchant had once more recourse to the young 
Pole. "It is just as we supposed," said he; "the land- 
lord has persuaded some of the drivers, that now the revo- 
lution has set in, their obligations have ceased, and they 
have begun to unload the wagons. Had we been a day 
later, everything would have been carried off. The landlord 
and a few of his associates have been the instigators, and some 
of the wagoners have been frightened into compliance." 

At this announcement, a new volley of imprecations pro- 
ceeded from the lips of the small authority, and the land- 
lord, from whose face all ruddiness had vanished, was soon 
on his knees before the officer, who pulled him by the hair, 
and treated him very roughly indeed. Meanwhile, Anton 
and some of the men laid siege to a locked-up coach-house, 
broke open the door, and disclosed the bales of wool, and the 
remainder of the stolen goods. 

" Let these people re-load," said the merchant ; " they 
may well work the night through as a punishment." After 
some opposition, the wagoners set to, overpowered by a 
combination of threats and promises. Tlie Pole drove the 
drunken guests out of the tavern, had the outer door 
closed, and all the candles and lanterns of the establishment 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



259 



brought into the court-yard. Next he dragged the host by 
the hair of his head to the upper storey, and then, by the 
help of some patriots with great cockades, tied him to a 
bedpost, and gave him to understand that that was the 
nearest approach to a night's rest which he had to expect. 
" In the event of the freight being found entire, and safely 
removed from your premises, you shall be forgiven," said 
the Pole ; "in the opposite case, I shall have you tried at 
once, and shot." 

Meanwhile, the uproar in the court was great indeed. 
Anton had the wagons re-loaded, and the freight properly 
secured. Full of his work he scarcely looked around, and 
only realized at odd moments his singular entourage, and the 
exciting nature of the scene. It was a large square court, 
surrounded by low ruinous wooden buildings, stables, and 
coach-houses, and having two entrances, one through the inn 
itself, and one through a gate opposite. It occupied a space 
of several acres, as is often the case with these hostelries 
of eastern Europe, stationed on great thoroughfares; and 
afforded, as do the caravansaries of Asia, shelter for large 
transports of goods, as well as for multitudes of the poor and 
needy. All sorts of wagons were now assembled in the square 
court in question; and it was crowded besides with ladders, 
poles, wheels, gigantic hampers, grey canvas coverings, 
bundles of hay and straw, old tar-barrels, and portable 
racks. Besides the stable-lanterns and flaming pine-torches, 
there was the red glare in the sky, and the lurid clouds of 
smoke and sparks rolling still over the heads of the travellers. 
This strange sort of twilight shone here at least upon 
a peaceful task. The wagoners worked hard, shouting 
loudly the while ; dark forms now vanished in the shadovr 



260 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



of the bales, now sprang on the top of them, while their 
animated gesticulations made them look, in the red light, 
like a crowd of savages holding some mysterious nocturnal 
orgies. 

The merchant, meanwhile, walked up and down between 
the inn and the scene of action. It was in vain that 
Anton implored him to rest for a few hours. " This is no 
night for us to sleep in," said he gloomily ; and Anton read 
in his dark glance, the resolve of a man who is ready to 
stake his all upon the accomplishment of his inflexible will. 

It was nearly morning when the last giant-bale was 
firmly secured with ropes and chains on the wagon top. 
Anton, who had himself been lending a hand, now slipped 
down, and announced to his principal that their work was 
done. 

" At last ! " replied the merchant, drawing a long breath ; 
and then he went up to announce the fact to their friendly 
escort. 

He, for his part, had contrived to get through the night 
in his own way ; first, he thoroughly enjoyed the supper 
and wine brought him by the terrified maids, and found 
leisure to say a few encouraging words to the prettiest 
of them. Then he contemplated the dirty bed, and at 
last threw himself, with a French oath, upon it, looking 
now at the distorted countenance of the roguish host, who 
sat opposite him on the ground, now at the ceiling ; 
and, while half-asleep himself, complimenting the merchant, 
who looked in from time to time, upon his capacity of keep- 
ing awake a whole night. At length the youth fell fast 
asleep. At least the merchant found him in the morning 
outstretched on the coarse coverlet, his delicate face shaded 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



261 



by his long black hair, his small hands crossed, and a pleas- 
ant smile playing around his lips. 

As he lay there he afforded no incorrect type of the 
aristocracy of his nation : noble child that he was, with the 
passions, and perhaps the sins of a man ; while over against 
him crouched the coarse build of the fettered plebeian, who 
pretended to sleep too, but often cast a malicious glance at 
the recumbent form before him. 

The aristrocrat sprang up when the merchant approached 
the bed, and throwing the window open, said — " Good-day ! 
it is morning, I see ; I have slept admirably." Next he 
called to a patrol passing by, briefly informed the leader 
how things stood, made over to him the landlord and 
the remainder of the supper, and desired him to stop at 
once, and keep guard over the house till he should 
return. Then he ordered the wagoners to harness the 
horses, and led the travellers out into the grey dawn of 
a comfortless-looking day. 

On their way to the agent, the merchant said to Anton : 
" We shall divide the most necessary visits between us. 
Tell our customers that we have no kind of intention of 
oppressing them, that on the restoration of some degree of 
order, they may reckon upon the greatest forbearance and 
consideration, nay, under conditions, upon an extension of 
credit, but that at present we insist upon securities. We 
shall not effect much in this confusion, but that these 
gentlemen should be, at a time like this, even reminded of 
our firm, is worth a good deal." Then in a lower tone he 
added : " The town is doomed — we shall do little business 
here for some time to com.e ; remember that, and be firm." 
And turning to the Pole he said : " I request you to allow 



262 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



my fellow-traveller to pay a few business-calls in the com- 
pany of our agent." 

" If your agent mil answer with his person for the 
gentleman's return," returned the Pole with some reluctance, 
" I consent." 

The light of day had exercised its gracious office of giving 
colour to flowers, and courage to the faint-hearted, even in 
favour of the agent. He declared himself ready to accompany 
Anton upon the terms proposed. Accordingly, under the pro- 
tection of the great cockade upon his companion's hat, Anton 
hurried from house to house, pale indeed from loss of rest, 
but with an undaunted heart. Everywhere he was received 
with amazement, not always free from confusion. " How 
could people think in such a time about winding up matters 
of business, with the noise of arms all round, and in deadly 
fear of a horrible future V 

Anton coolly replied, " Our firm is not accustomed to 
trouble itself about rumours of war, when not absolutely 
obliged to do so. All times are suited for the fulfilment of 
obligations ; and if this be a fit season for us to come here, 
it is also a fit season for you to arrange matters with me." 
Through which representations he succeeded here and there 
in obtaining definite promises, commissions, nay, even re- 
imbursement. 

After a few hours' hard work, Anton met his principal 
in the agent's house. AVhen he had made his report the 
merchant said, reaching out his hand to him, " If we 
can succeed in getting our wagons safely out of the town, 
we shall have done enough to enable us to bear the un- 
avoidable losses that we must undergo. Now then to 
the commandant." He gave a few further instructions to 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



263 



the agent, whispering to him in parting : " In a few days 
our troops will enter ; I take it for granted that you 
will not leave your house till then. We shall thus meet 
again." 

With upraised hands, the agent invoked the protection 
of all the saints in the calendar upon the travellers, locked 
and bolted the house-door behind them, and hid his revolu- 
tionary cockade in the stove. 

Our friends now hurried on through the tumult, led by 
the Pole. The streets were full again ; bands of armed men 
passed by, the populace was in wilder excitement, and the 
noise greater than on the previous evening. The houses 
were thundered at, and an entrance insisted on. Brandy 
casks were rolled on to the flags, and surrounded by crowds 
of drunken men and women. Everything denoted that the 
authorities were not sufficiently strong to enforce street- 
discipline. Even in the house of the commandant there was 
agitation and restlessness, soldiers were hurrying to and fro, 
and the messages which they brought were evidently un- 
favourable, for there was much whispering going on in 
the great ante-chamber, and anxious suspense was visible 
on every face. 

As soon as the yoimg Pole entered, he was surrounded 
by his friends, and drawn into a corner. After some hasty 
questions he seized a musket, called off a few soldiers by 
name, and left the room without troubling himself any 
further about the travellers. 

The merchant and Anton were showTi into the next room, 
where the young commander-in-chief received them. He too 
looked pale and dejected, but it was with the bearing of a true 
nobleman that he addressed Mr. Schroter : " I have forwarded 



264 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



your wishes ; here is a passport fur you and your wagons. 
I pray you to infer from this that we are anxious to treat 
the citizens of your state with consideration, possibly even 
more than the duty of self-iDreservation would dictate." 

The merchant received the important document with 
shining eyes. " You have shown me a remarkable degree 
of kindness," said he ; " I feel myself dee^jly indebted to 
you, and wish that I may one day be permitted to prove 
my gratitude." 

" Who knows ?" answered the young commandant, with 
a melancholy smile ; "he who stakes all upon a cast may 
lose all." 

" He may lose much," replied the merchant courteously, 
" but not all, if he has striven honourably." 

At that moment a hollow sound was heard, a sound like 
the sweep of the howling wind, or the roaring of a rushing 
flood. The commandant stood motionless and listened. 
Suddenly a discordant scream of many voices resounded close 
by, and some shots followed. Anton, made susceptible by 
a night of wakefulness, and long-continued excitement, 
started with terror, and remarked that his principal's hand, 
in which was the passport, shook violently. The door of 
the cabinet now burst open, a few stately-looking men rushed 
in, with garments torn, arms in their hands, the traces of a 
street combat visible on their excited countenances, and at 
their head the young escort of the travellers. 

" Mutiny !" cried the youth to his commanding officer ; 
" they are seeking you. Save yourself I will keep them 
off." 

Quick as thought Anton sprang towards his principal, 
dragged him away, and both flew through the ante-chamber. 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



265 



and down tlie staircase to the ground-floor. Here they 
came upon a band of soldiers, who were endeavouring to 
garrison the house against masses of the populace. But 
swift as were the movements of the travellers, those of 
their last night's escort were quicker still, as, with a loud 
shout, he rushed to head his friends in their resistance to 
the invaders. His black hair flew wildly around his bare 
head, and his eyes shone out from his beautiful and now 
pallid face, with the unconquerable energy of a brave 
man. 

"Back!" he cried with a loud, clear voice, to the raging 
people, and sprang like a panther in among them, dealing 
sword-strokes round. The masses gave way ; the comrades 
of the brave youth ranged themselves behind him. Again 
Anton seized his principal's arm, and dragged him off with 
such speed as is only possible to men under the influence 
of strong excitement. They had just got behind a pro- 
jection of the house, when they heard a shot fired, and saw 
with horror the young Pole fall backwards bleeding, and 
heard his last cry — " The canaille ! " 

" To the wagons ! " said the merchant, dashing down a 
narrow cross-street. They still heard in the distance shots 
and cries of discord ; and breaking through bands of curious 
and terrified inhabitants, who hindered their progress, they 
arrived breathless, and fearing the worst, at the door of 
the inn. 

Here, too, there was mutiny. The soldiers left in charge 
of the house had loosed the landlord, and speedily made 
their retreat, as soon as news of the tumult reached them. 
The courtyard was now a scene of wrangling and confusion. 
The landlord, supported by a number of idlers collected 



266 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



from the streets, was disputing violently with the wagoners. 
Some of the wagons were harnessed and ready for depar- 
ture, but from others the canvas covering had been again 
dragged off. The case was a desperate one. The merchant 
tore away from Anton, who tried to detain him, and rush- 
ing into the midst of the disputants, called out in Polish as 
loudly as he could, while holding the passport above his 
head, " Stop, I say ! here is the order of the commander-in- 
chief authorizing the departure of our wagons. AVhoever 
resists it will be punished. We are under the protection of 
the Government." 

" What government? you rogue of a German !" screamed 
the landlord, with ominous face ; " the old government is 
done away with ; the traitors have had their reward, and 
their spies shall be hanged as well." And rushing at the 
merchant, he brandished an old sword at his head. 

Our Anton shuddered; but man being in the most 
critical moments liable to strange associations of idea, 
which play like meteors across the anguish of his spirit, it 
chanced that the broad back of the landlord suddenly re- 
minded him of the back of a squat school-fellow of his at 
Ostrau, a good-natured baker's son, upon whom in many a 
scuffle he had often practised the boyish trick of tripping 
an adversary from behind. Quick as lightning he sprang 
upon the landlord, and most skilfully threw him. The 
falling sword swerved from its fatal aim, only striking the 
arm of the merchant, cutting through the coat and into the 
flesh. As the fat fellow lay struggling on his back like a 
beetle, Anton drew out his trusty pistols, and cried with 
the inspiration of despair, " Back, you rascals, or I shoot 
him dead!" 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



267 



This rapid diversion had more effect than could reason- 
ably have been hoped ; the people that the landlord had 
collected around him, and who after all were only working 
for his interest, fell back, while half a dozen wagoners, with 
bars of iron and other implements of the kind, crowded 
round the merchant, and now screamed as loudly as the 
other party had done a short time before, declaring that no 
harm should happen to the gentleman and his wagons. 
The merchant cried, " Drive these strangers out ! " and, 
taking up the sword that the landlord had dropped, at 
the head of his adherents stormed the latter's abettors, and 
drove them through the house. The most stiffnecked of 
them tried to intrench themselves in the bar, but one after 
the other was cast out, roaring and cursing the while. The 
door was then locked, and the merchant hastened back to 
the court-yard, and found Anton still kneeling by the 
incorrigible landlord to prevent him from rising. The 
rest of the wagoners having timidly got out of the way, 
the merchant now summoned them all, and ordered them 
to put the horses to, saying to Anton, " We must leave 
this place. Better the street pavement than this den of 
thieves." 

" You bleed ! " cried Anton in great distress, his eye fall- 
ing on the merchant's arm. 

" It must be a mere scratch ; I can move the arm," 
was the prompt reply. " Open the gate ; out with the 
wagons. Forward, my men ! Anton, one of the wagoners 
will help you to bind the landlord." 

"And where shall we go?" inquired Anton in English. 
" Are we to take these wagons into the bloodshed of the 
streets?" 



268 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" We have a passport, and will leave the town," answered 
the merchant doggedly. 

" They will not respect our passport," cried Anton in 
return, while he held a pistol at the head of the obstreper- 
ous landlord. 

• "If the worst come to the worst, there are other inns in 
this part of the town ; any of them will be a better refuge." 

" But we have not the full complement of drivers, and 
some of our number are disaffected." 

" I will manage the disaffected," answered the mer- 
chant sternly ; " we have the full number of horses, we 
only want the men. Those to whom the horses belong 
will remain with them. The gate is open — out with the 
wagons !" 

The gate led to an open space covered with building 
stones and debris, and surrounded by a few poor houses. 
The merchant hastened thither to superintend the departure. 
A stout youth came to Anton's assistance. They were 
anxious moments these. Near the house, he and his helper 
were struggling with the prostrate man, whose ugly wife 
and her two maidservants were howling at the house-door. 
As the first wagon rolled away, their screams became 
louder : the landlady called out " help" and " murder ! " and 
the maids wailed all the louder the more fervently the young 
wagoner assured them that no harm would befall his v/or- 
ship, the landlord, if he would only lie still ; and that, more- 
over, they would all pay their bills besides. 

Just then, loud knocks were heard at the house-door ; the 
women rushed in and unlocked it at once ; and so great 
had been the hopeless excitement of the last few minutes, 
that it was almost with a sense of relief that Anton saw a 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



269 



strong body of soldiery defile into the court. He rose from 
the ground, and left the landlord free. But the merchant 
walked slowly, and with uncertain steps, like a broken- 
down man, to meet the enemies, who, at this decisive 
moment, frustrated his will. 

The leader of the band, one of those whom the young 
Pole had in the morning summoned to the inn, said to the 
merchant, " You are prisoners ; neither you nor your wagons 
can leave the town." 

" I have a passport," eagerly replied Mr. Schroter, feel- 
ing for his pocket-book. 

"The new government forbids your journey," was the 
curt rejoinder. 

" I must submit," said the merchant, mechanically sitting 
down on a wagon pole, and clinging to the body of the 
vehicle. 

Anton held the half-unconscious man in his arms, and 
said in utmost indignation, " We have been twice robbed in 
this inn, we were in danger of being killed, my companion 
is wounded, as you see ; if your Government is determined to 
detain us and our wagons, at least protect our lives and our 
property. The wagons cannot remain here, and if we are 
separated from them, it will be still more diflicult to pre- 
vent their being plundered." 

The soldiers now held a consultation, and at length their 
leader called Anton to share in it. After much discussion, it 
was finally arranged that the wagons should be moved to a 
neighbouring establishment, equal to this in accommodation, 
but superior in character. Anton obtained leave to move 
to it with his companion, and there remain under surveil- 
lance till something further should be decided. Meanwhile, 



270 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



the merchant sat leaning against the canvas covering, and 
taking, apparently, no interest in what was going on. 
Anton now rapidly told him the decision arrived at. 

" We must bear it," said the principal, rising slowly and 
with difficulty. " Ask the landlord for our bill." 

" We will pay the landlord," said the soldier in command, 
roughly pushing that functionary aside. " Think of your- 
self," added he, kindly catching hold of the wounded man's 
arm to support him. 

" Pay for us and for the horses," repeated Mr. Schroter 
to Anton ; "we cannot remain in these people's debt." 

Anton accordingly took out his pocket-book, called the 
drivers together, and, in their presence, made over a bank- 
note to the landlord, saying to him, " I now pay you this 
sum provisionally, until you shall have made out your 
account. You men are witnesses." The drivers respect- 
fully bowed, and hurried back to their wagons. 

The procession now set forth. First a portion of the 
armed escort, then the heavy wagons, which slowly and 
helplessly rumbled along over the stones ; some of them 
without drivers, but kept in line by their well-trained 
horses. 

Mr. Schroter stood at the gate, leaning upon Anton, and 
counted each wagon as it passed ; and as the last rolled 
off, he said, "Done at last;" and consented to be led 
away. 

In the very next cross-street, the procession turned into 
the gi'eat court-yard of another inn. When the last of the 
wagons had at length had its horses unharnessed, and the 
soldiers had barred the gate from within, the merchant fell 
down in a swoon, and was carried into the house. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



271 



He was placed in a small room, a giiard stationed at his 
door, and another in the court. Anton remained alone 
with the sufferer. Full of anxiety, he knelt by his bed, 
unfastened his clothes, and bathed his face with cold water. 
After a time, Mr. Schroter revived, opened his eyes, looked 
gratefully at Anton, and pointed to the window. 

Anton looked out, and said, joyously, "It opens upon 
the court-yard. I can overlook and count the wagons. I 
really think that here, although prisoners, we are tolerably 
safe. But first of all, allow me to look to your vround — 
your clothes are much stained with blood." 

" My weakness proceeds more from over-excitement 
than loss of blood," replied the merchant, raising himself 
up. 

Anton opened the door, and begged for a surgeon. 
Their guard was prepared to go for one, and after an 
anxious hour had passed, he introduced a shabby-looking 
individual, who hurriedly produced a razor and a dirty 
pocket handkerchief, wiping the razor on his sleeve, and 
bringing the handkerchief into alarming proximity with 
Anton's chin. It was with some difficulty that the reason 
of his being sent for was conveyed to him. 

Anton cut away the sleeve of the coat and shirt, and 
himself examined the wound. It was a cut in the upper 
arm ; not a deep one, indeed, but the arm was stiff, and 
Mr. Schroter suffered severely. The barber attempted to 
bandage it, and went off, promising to return on the mor- 
row. The merchant fell back, exhausted with the pain of 
the bandaging, and Anton sat by him the remainder of the 
day, laying wet cloths around the arm, and watching the 
feverish slumber of the patient. 



272 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Soon he sank himself into a sort of half-sleep, a dull 
apathy, which made him indifferent to all that was going 
on without. Thus evening wore away, and night came on. 
Anton occasionally dipped his fingers in cold water, and 
crept from the bed to the window to watch the wagons, or 
to the door to exchange a whisper with the guard, who 
showed a friendly interest in the case. 

Meanwhile, the fire continued its ravages, and the sound 
of musketry thundered at the gates. Anton looked care- 
lessly at the burning fragments which the wind drove over 
the unhappy town, and heard, with a faint degree of sur- 
prise, that the noise of the firing grew louder and louder, 
and at last became a deafening crash ; all the sounds that 
struck his ear from the street appearing to him as unim- 
portant as the ringing of a little early church-bell which he 
had often heard from his own room in the principal's house, 
and which never disturbed any one out of his morning 
repose. The whole night through, he kept mechanically 
wetting and applying cold-water poultices to the patient's 
arm, and rising whenever the latter groaned or turned. 
But when, towards morning, the merchant fell into a 
sounder sleep, Anton forgot his task, his head fell heavy 
upon his hands outstretched on the table, he neither saw 
nor heard ; and amidst the screams of the wounded, 
and the thundering of cannon which attended the taking 
of a stoutly-defended town, amidst all the horrors of a 
bloody conflict, he slept like a tired boy over his school- 
task. 

When he awoke, after the lapse of a few hours, it had 
long been morning. The merchant smiled kindly at him 
from his bed, and reached out his hand. Anton pressed it 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



273 



with all his heart, and hurried to the window. " They are 
all right," said he. He then opened the door ; the guard 
of the previous night had vanished. And on the street, he 
heard the beat of drums, and tlie regular tramp of regiments 
marching in. 



s 



274 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER XXL 

" T17E gave you up for lost," cried the newly arrived 
captain to Mr, Schroter. " They manage inns 
wretchedly here, and all my inquiries after you proved 
fruitless. It was a fortunate thing that your letter found 
me out in this confusion." 

We have accomplished our purpose," said the merchant ; 
"but not, as you see, without drawbacks ;" and he pointed, 
smiling, to his wounded arm. 

" First and foremost, let me hear your adventures," said 
the captain, sitting down by the bedside. " You have more 
tokens of the fight to show than 1." 

The merchant told his story. He dwelt warmly upon 
Anton's courage, to which he ascribed his safety, and 
ended by saying, " My wound does not prevent my travel- 
ling, and my return is imperative. I shall go with the 
wagons as far as the frontier." 

" Early to-morrow morning one of our companies returns 
to the frontier ; you can send your wagons under its 
escort. Besides which, the high-roads are now safe. To- 
morrow the mails begin to run again." 

"I must still further request your assistance. I am 
anxious to write home by a courier this very day." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



275 



"I will take care," promised the captain, "that your 
return to-morrow shall meet with no impediments." 

As soon as the oflficer had left the room, Mr. Schroter 
said to Anton, " I have a surprise for you, dear Wohlfart, 
which will, I fear, be an unwelcome one. I wish to leave 
you here in my place." Anton drew nearer in amazement. 
" There is no relying on our agent at a time like this," con- 
tinued the merchant, "and I have, during the last few days, 
rejoiced to discover how perfectly I can depend upon you. 
What you have just done to save my head-piece, will be 
unforgotten as long as I live. And now draw a writing- 
table here beside me ; we have still some plans to 
arrange." 

The next morning a post-chaise stood before the inn door, 
into which Mr. Schroter was lifted by Anton. It was then 
drawn up to the side of the street till he had seen the 
wagons pass one by one out of the gateway. Then press- 
ing Anton's hand once more, he said, "Your stay here 
may last weeks, nay, months. Your work will be very 
disagreeable, and often fruitless. But I repeat it, do not 
be too anxious ; I trust to your decision as to my own. 
And do not be afraid of incurring contingent loss, if you can 
only get unsafe debtors to pay up. This place is devastated 
and lost to us for the future. Farewell till our happy 
meeting at home." 

Thus Anton remained alone in the strange town, in 
a position where great trust imposed upon him great 
responsibility. He went back to his room, called the 
landlord, and at once made arrangements for his further 
stay there. The town was so filled with military, that he 
preferred to remain in the small quarters that he had 



276 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



already occupied, and to put up with their inconveniences, 
having little expectation of changing for the better. 

It was indeed a devastated town which Anton now ex- 
plored. A few days back, crowds of passionately excited 
men had filled the streets, and every kind of daring enterprise 
was to be read on their wild faces. Where was now the 
haughty defiance, the thirst of battle, that inspired all 
those thousands ? 

The crowds of peasants, the swarming town populace, 
the soldiers of the patriot army, had vanished like ghosts 
scared by the presence of an enchanter. The few men to 
be seen in the streets were foreign soldiers. But their gay 
uniforms did not improve the aspect of the town. True, 
the fire was quenched, whose clouds of smoke had darkened 
the sky. But there stood the houses in the pale light, 
looking as if they had been gutted. The doors remained 
closed, many of the window-panes were broken ; on the 
flags lay heaps of mud, dirty straw, and fragments of fur- 
niture. Here, a car with a broken wheel ; there, a uniform, 
arms, the carcase of a horse. At the corner of a street 
stood barrels and pieces of furniture which had been thrown 
out of the houses, as a last barricade to impede the advan- 
cing troops ; and behind them lay, carelessly strewn over 
with straw, the corpses of slaughtered men. Anton turned 
away in horror when he saw the pale faces through the 
straw. Newly-arrived troops were bivouacking in the square 
— ^their horses stood in couples round ; in all the streets 
the tramp of patrols was heard ; while it was only at rare 
intervals that a civilian was seen to pass along the flag- 
stones, with his hat drawn low over his face, and casting 
timid sidelong glances at the foreign troops. Sometimes, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



277 



too, a pale-looking man was seen, led along by soldiers, 
and pushed onwards with the bayonet if he went too 
slowly. The town had worn an ugly appearance during the 
insurrection, but it was still worse now. 

When Anton returned from his first walk, with these 
impressions upon his mind, he found a hussar walking up 
and down before his door like a sentinel. 

"Mr. Wohlfart !" shouted the hussar, rushing at him. 

" My dear Karl," cried Anton ; " this is the first plea- 
sure I have had in this wretched town. But how came 
you hither 1 

" You know that I am serving my time. We joined 
our comrades at the frontier, a few hours after you had 
left. The landlord knew me, and told me of your de- 
parture. You may imagine the fright I was in. To-day, 
I got leave of absence for the first time, and had the good 
luck to meet one of the drivers, else I should not have found 
you out yet. And now, Mr. Wohlfart, what of our prin- 
cipal, and what of your goods 

" Come with me into my room, and you shall hear all," 
replied Anton. 

" Stop a moment," cried Karl, " you speak to me more 
formally than you used to do, and I can't stand that. Please 
to speak just as if I was Karl in our old place yonder." 

" But you are no longer so," said Anton, laughing. 

" This is only a masquerade," said Karl, pointing to his 
uniform ; "in my heart I am still a supernumerary porter 
of T. 0. Schroter's." 

" Have it your own way, Karl," replied Anton ; " but 
come in, and hear all about it." 

Karl soon fell, as might have been expected, into a 



278 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



violent rage with the good-for-nothing hxndlord. "The 
thievish dog ! he has dared to attack our firm and our 
head ! To-morrow I'll take a whole troop of our fellows 
there. I'll drive him into his own yard, and we'll all play 
at leap-frog over him by the hour, and at every leap we'll 
give a kick to that wicked head of his." 

" Mr. Schroter let him go unpunished," said Anton ; 
" don't be more cruel than he. I say, Karl, you are become 
a handsome youth." 

" I shall do," returned Karl, much flattered. " I've got 
reconciled to agriculture. My uncle is a worthy man. If 
you picture my father to yourself about half his own age, 
thin instead of stout, and with a small stumpy nose in- 
stead of a large one, and a long face instead of a round, 
with a grey coat and no leather apron, and with a pair 
of great boots up to his knees, why then you have my 
uncle — a most capital little fellow. He is very kind to 
me. At first I found it dull in the country, but I got used 
to it in time ; one is always going about the farm, and 
that's pleasant. It was a blow to my grey-headed uncle 
when I had to turn soldier, but I was delighted to get upon 
a horse in right down earnest, and to see something of the 
scuffle here. There are wretched inns in this country, Mr. 
Wohlfart; and this place is a horrible scene of desolation !" 

Thus Karl rattled on : at last he caught up his cap — 
" If you remain here, will you allow me often to spend a 
quarter of an hour with you?" 

" Do as at home," said Anton ; " and if I happen to be 
out, the landlord will have the key, and here are the 
cigars." 

And so Anton found an old friend ; but Karl was not 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



279 



his only military acquaintance. The captain was delighted 
with a countryman who had played so bold a part against 
the insurgents. He introduced him to the colonel who 
commanded the division. To hun Anton had to tell his 
adventures, and to receive high commendation from a large 
circle of epaulets ; and the following day, the captain in- 
vited him to dinner, and introduced him to the officers of 
his own squadron. Anton's modest composure made a 
favourable impression upon them all. At home, they would 
probably have been restricted by their views of human 
greatness from becoming intimate with a young merchant ; 
but here in the camp, they were themselves wiser men than 
in the idle days of peace, their social prejudices were fewer, 
and their recognition of others' deserts less impeded. Con- 
sequently, they soon came to consider the young clerk as a 
" deuced good fellow," fell into the habit of calling him by 
his Christian name, and whenever they were going to drink 
their coffee, or to play a game of dominoes, they invariably 
invited him to join them. An obscure tradition of large 
means and mysterious relationships once more emerged from 
the abyss of past years, but, to do the squadron justice, it 
was not this which prompted their kind attentions to their 
countryman. Anton was himself more exalted by this good 
fellowship with these noble lads than he would have chosen 
to confess to himself or to Mr. Pix. He now enjoyed a 
free intercourse with men of mark, and felt as if born to 
many enjoyments which heretofore he had only contem- 
plated with silent reverence from afar. Old recollections 
began to re-assert their sway, and he felt once more 
drawn into the magic circle, where everything appeared to 
him free, bright, and beautiful. Lieutenant von Rothsattel 



280 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



belonged to the number of Anton's friendly acqnaintance. 
Our hero treated him with the tenderest consideration, and 
the lieutenant, who was at bottom a reckless, light-hearted, 
good-natured fellow, was readily pleased by Anton's cordial 
admiration, and repaid him with peculiar confidence. 

Fortunately, however, for our hero, his business pre- 
vented him losing his independence amongst his new allies. 
The town was, indeed, devastated ; the wild uproar was 
over, but all peaceful activity seemed exhausted too. The 
necessaries of life were dear, and work scarce. Many 
who once wore boots went barefoot now. He who could 
formerly have bought a new coat, now contented himself 
with having the old one mended ; the shoemaker and tailor 
breakfasted on water-gruel instead of coffee ; the shopkeeper 
was unable to pay his debts to the merchant, and the mer- 
chant unable to discharge his obligations to other firms. He 
who had to recover money from men thus depressed had a 
hard task indeed, as Anton soon found out. On every side 
he heard lamentations which were but too well founded ; 
and frequently every species of artifice was employed to evade 
his claims. Every day he had to go through painful scenes, 
often to listen to long legal proceedings carried on in Polish, 
out of which he generally came with an impression of hav- 
ing been " done^'' though the agent played the part of inter- 
preter. It was a strange commercial drama in which Anton 
had now to take a share. Men from every portion of 
Europe w^ere here, and trade had many peculiarities, which 
to German eyes seemed irregular and insecure. Neverthe- 
less, habits of duty exercise so great an influence even over 
weaker natures, that Anton's perseverance more than once 
won the day. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



281 



The greatest claim that his house had was upon a Mr. 
Wendel, a dry little man, who had done a great deal of 
business on every side. People said that he had become 
rich by smuggling, and was n(iw in great danger of failing. 
He had received the principal himself with something of 
contumely, and had at first comported himself towards his 
young deputy like a man distracted. Anton had again 
spent an hour in reasoning with him, and in spite of all 
the latter's twistings and turnings, had remained firm to 
his point. At length Wendel broke out — " Enough ; I am 
a mined man, but you deserve to get your money. Your 
house has always dealt generously by me. You shall be 
reimbursed. Send your agent to me again in the course of 
the day, and come to me early to-morrow morning." 

On the morrow when Anton, accompanied by tlie agent, 
appeared before their debtor, Wendel, after a gloomy salu- 
tation, seized hold of a great rusty key, slowly put on a 
faded cloak on which countless dams showed like cob- 
webs on an old wall, and led his creditors to a remote 
part of the town, stopping before a mined monastery. They 
went through a long cloister. Anton looked admiringly at 
the exquisite moulding of the arches, from which, however, 
time had worn off many a fragment that encumbered the 
pavement. Monuments of the old inhabitants of the place 
were ranged along the walls, and weather-satined inscrip- 
tions announced to the inattentive living that pious Slavonic 
monks had once sought peace within this shelter. Here in 
this cloister they had paced up and down ; here they had 
prayed and dreamed till they had to make over their poor 
souls to the intercession of their saints. In the centre of 
this buMing, Wendel now opened a secret door, and led his 



282 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



companions down a winding staii'case into a large vault. 
This had been once used as the cellar of the rich cloister ; 
and down that same staircase the cellarer had gone — ah ! 
how often — wandering between the casks, tasting here and 
tasting there ; and at the ringing of the little bell above 
him, bowing his head and saying a short prayer, and then 
returning to taste again, or in comfortable mood to walk up 
and down. The prayer-bell of the cloister had been melted 
down long ago ; the empty cells were in ruins, and cattle 
fed where once the prior sat at the head of his brethren at 
their stately meal. All had vanished ; the cellar only re- 
mained, and the casks of fiery Hungarian wine stood as they 
did five hundred years before. Still the rays of light con- 
verged into a star on the beautiful arch of the roof ; still 
the vault was kept stainlessly whitewashed, and the floor 
strewn with finest sand ; and still it was the cellarer's custom 
only to approach the noble wine with a waxlight. True, 
they were not the identical casks out of which the old 
monks drew their potions, but they were now, as then, 
filled with the produce of the vine-clad hills of Hegyalla, 
with the rosy wine of Menes, with the pride of (Eden- 
burg, and the mild juice of the careful vintage of Rust. 

" A hundred and fifty casks at eighteen, four-and-twenty, 
and thirty ducats the cask," said the agent, beginning the 
inventory. 

Meanwhile, Wendel went from one cask to another, the 
waxlight in his hand. He stood a little time before each, 
carefully wiping off" with a clean linen cloth the very slightest 
trace of mould. " This was my favourite walk," said he to 
Anton. " For twenty years I have attended every vintage 
as a purchaser. Those were happy days, Mr. Wohlfart, and 



CI 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



283 



now they are gone for ever. I have often walked up and 
down here, looking at the sunlight that shone down upon 
the barrels, and thinking of those who walked here before 
me. To-day I am here for the last time. And what will 
become of the wine? It will all be exported; they will 
drink it in foreign parts, without knowing its merits ; and 
some brandy distiller will take possession of this cellar, or 
some new brewer will keep his Bavarian beer in it. The 
old times are over for me too. — This is the noblest wine of 
all," said he, going up to a particular cask. " I might have 
excepted it from my surrender. But what should I do with 
this barrel only? Drink it? I shall never drink wine 
more. It shall go with the rest, only I must take leave of 
it." He filled his glass. " Did you ever drink wine like 
that before?" asked he mournfully, holding out the glass to 
Anton, who willingly owned he never had. 

They slowly re-ascended the steps. Arrived at the top, 
the wine-merchant cast one last long look into the cellar; 
then turned round like one fully resolved ; locked the secret 
door, took out the key, and laid it solemnly in Anton's 
hand. " There is the key of your property. Our accounts 
are settled. Fare-you-well, gentlemen ! " Slowly and with 
bent head he went through the ruined cloister, looking, 
in the grey light of the early morning, like the ghost of 
some ancient cellarer still haunting the relics of his past 
glory. 

The agent called after him — "But our breakfast. Mi*. 
Wendel !" The old man shook his head, and made a gesture 
of refusal. 

Yes, indeed, the breakfast ! Every transaction was 
drowned in wine in this town. The long sittings m drink- 



284 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



ing-liouses, which even the bad times did not prevent, were 
no small sorrow to Anton. He saw that men worked much 
less, and talked and drank much more in this country than 
in his. Whenever he had succeeded in getting a matter 
arranged, he could not dispense with the succeeding break- 
fast. Then buyers, sellers, assistants, and hangers-on of 
every kind sat at a round table together, in one of the 
taverns ; began with porter, ate Caviare by the pound, and 
washed it down with red Bordeaux wine. Hospitality was 
dispensed on all sides: every familiar face must come 
and take a share in the banquet; and so the company 
went on increasing till evening closed. Meanwhile the 
wives, accustomed to such proceedings, woidd have dinner 
brought up and removed three successive times, and at last, 
adjourned till the next day. At times like these Anton 
often thought of Fink, who, despite his reluctance, had at least 
taught him to get through such ordeals as these respectably. 

One afternoon, while Anton was sitting watching a game 
at dominoes, an old lieutenant, looking off his newspaper, 
called to the players, " Yesterday evening, one of our hussars 
had two fingers of his right hand smashed. The ass who 
was quartered with him had been playing with his carabine, 
which was loaded. The doctor thinks amputation unavoid- 
able. I am sorry for the fine fellow : he was one of the 
most efiicient of our squadron. These misfortunes always 
happen to the best." 

"What is the man's name?" asked Herr von Boiling, 
going on with his game. 

" It is Corporal Sturm." 

Anton sprang up, making all the pieces on the table 
dance again, and asked where he was to be found? 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



285 



The lieutenant described the situation of the Lazaretto. 
In a dark room, full of beds and invalid soldiers, Karl lay 
pale and suffering, and reached out his left hand to Anton. 
"It is over," he said; "it hurt me most confoundedly, but 
I shall be able to use the hand again. I can still guide a 
pen, and shall try hard to do everything else, if not with 
the right hand, why, with the left! Only, I shall never 
again cut a figure in gold rings." 

" My poor, poor Karl," cried Anton ; " it's all over with 
your soldiering." 

" Do you know," said Karl, " I can stand that misfor- 
tune pretty well. After all, it was not a regular war ; and 
when spring and sowing-time comes, I shall be all right 
again. I could get up now if the doctor were not so strict. 
It is not pleasant here," added he, apologetically ; " many 
of our people are sick, and one must shift for one's-self in a 
strange town." 

" You shall not remain in this room," said Anton, " if I 
can help it. There is such an atmosphere of disease here 
that a man in health becomes quite faint ; I shall ask per- 
mission to have you moved into my lodging." 

"Dear Mr. Anton!" cried Karl, overjoyed. 

"Hush!" said the other; "I do not yet know whether 
we shaU get leave." 

" I have one other request to make," said the soldier at 
parting, " and that is, that you will write the circumstance 
off to Goliath, so as not to make him too uneasy. If he 
first heard of it from a stranger, he would go on like a 
madman, I know." 

Anton promised to do this, and then hurried to the sur- 
geon of the regiment, and next to his kind friend the captain. 



286 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



"I will answer for his getting leave," said the latter. 
" And as from the account of his wound, his dismissal 
from the service seems to me unavoidable, he may as well 
stay with you till he receives it." 

Thi'ee days later, Karl, with his arm in a sling, entered 
Anton's room. " Here I am ! " said he. " Adieu my gay 
uniform ! adieu Selim, my gallant bay ! You must have 
patience with me, Mr. Anton, for one other week, then I 
shall be able to use my arm again." 

" Here is an answer from your father," said Anton, 
" directed to me." 

" To you?" inquired Karl in amazement. " Why to you ? 
why has he not written to meV 

" Listen." Anton took up a great sheet of folio paper, 
which was covered over with letters half-an-inch long, and 
read as follows : " Worshipful Mr. Wohlfart, this is a great 
misfortune for my poor son. Two fingers from ten — eight 
remain! Even though they were but small fingers, the 
pain was all the same. It is a great misfortune for both 
of us that we can no longer write to each other. Therefore, 
I beg you to have the goodness to tell him what follows : 
' He is not to grieve overmuch. Boring can still perhaps be 
done, and a good deal with the hammer. And even if it 
be Heaven's will that this too should be impossible, still he 
is not to grieve overmuch. He is provided for by an iron 
chest. When I am dead, he will find the key in my waist- 
coat pocket. And so I greet him with my whole heart. 
As soon as he can travel, he must come to me ; all the more, 
as I can no longer tell him in writing that I am his true 
and loving father, Johann Sturm.' " Anton gave the letter 
to the invalid. 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



287 



"It is just like him," said Karl, between smiles and 
tears; "in Ms first sorrow he has imagined that he can no 
longer write to me, because I have hurt my hand. How 
he will stare when he receives my letter ! " 

Karl spent the next few weeks with Anton. As soon as 
he could move his hand, he took possession of the wardrobe 
of his friend, and began to render him the little services 
that he had undertaken long ago in the principal's house. 
Anton had some difiiculty to prevent him from playing the 
superfluous part of valet. "There you are brushing my 
coat again," said he one day, going into Karl's room. " You 
know I will not stand it." " It was only to keep mine in 
countenance," said Karl by way of excuse ; " two look so 
much better hanging together than one. Your coffee is 
ready, but the coffee-pot is good for nothing, and always 
tastes of the spirit of wine." When he found that, as he 
said, he could be of no use to Anton, he began to work on 
his own account. Owing to his old love of mechanics, he 
had collected a quantity of tools of all sorts ; and whenever 
Anton left the house, he began such a sawing, boring, 
planing, and rasping, that even the deaf old artillery officer, 
who was quartered in the neighbouring house, was under 
the impression that a carpenter had settled near him, and 
sent a broken bedstead to be repaired. As Karl was still 
obliged to spare his right hand, he used one tool after the 
other with the left, and was as pleased as a child with the 
progress he made. And when the surgeon forbade such 
exertions for a week to come, Karl began to write with his 
left hand, and daily exhibited to Anton samples of his skill. 
"Practice is all that is wanted," said he; "man has to 
discover what he can do. As for that, writing with the 



288 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



hands at all is merely a habit ; if one had no hands, one 
would write with one's feet ; and I even believe that they 
are not essential, and that it could be managed with the 
head." 

" You are a foolish fellow," laughed Anton. 

" I do assure you," continued Karl, " that with a long 
reed held in the mouth, with two threads fastened to the 
ears, to lessen the shaking, one might get on very tolerably . 
There is the setting of your key-hole come off ; we'll glue 
that on in no time." 

" I wonder that it does not stick of itself," said 
Anton ; " for a most horrible smell of glue comes from 
your room. The whole atmosphere is impregnated with 
glue." 

"God forbid!" said Karl; "what I have is perfectly 
scentless glue — a new invention." 

When this true-hearted man set out homewards, with 
his dismission in his pocket, Anton felt as if he himself 
then first exchanged the counting-house for the foreign 
city. 

One day our Anton passed the inn where his principal 
had been wounded. He stood still a moment, and looked 
with some curiosity at the old house, and at the court-yard, 
where white-coated soldiers were now occupied in blacking 
and polishing their belts. At that moment he perceived a 
form in a black caftan glide away like a shadow, out of the 
bar across the entrance. It had the black curls, the small 
cap, the figure and bearing of his old acquaintance, Schmeie 
Tinkeles. Alas ! but it was his face no longer. The for- 
mer Tinkeles had been rather a smart fellow of his kind. 
He had always worn his long locks shining and curled, he 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



289 



had had red lips, and a slight tint of colour on his j^ellow 
cheeks. The present Schmeie was but a shadow of him of 
yore : he looked pale as a ghost, his nose had become 
pointed and prominent, and his head drooped down like the 
cup of a fading flower. 

Anton cried out in amazement, " Tinkeles ! is it really 
you ?" and went up to him. Tinkeles collapsed as if 
struck by a thunderbolt, and stared with wide-opened eyes 
at Anton, an image of horror and alarm. 

" God of justice !" were the only words that escaped his 
white lips. 

" What is the matter with you, Tinkeles 1 you look a 
most miserable sinner. "VMiat are you doing in this place, 
and what in the world leads you to this house of all 
others ? " 

" I cannot help being here," answered the trader, still 
half unconscious. " I cannot help our principal being so 
unfortunate. His blood has flowed on account of the 
goods which Mausche Fischel sent ofi", ha-\dng been paid for 
them. I am innocent, Mr. Wohlfart, on my eternal salva- 
tion. I did not know that the landlord was such a worth- 
less being, and that he would lift his hand against the 
gentleman who stood before him there without hat, without 
cap on — without cap on," he whined out still more loudly ; 
" bareheaded. You may believe that it was with me as 
though a sword had fallen upon my own body, when I saw 
the landlord use such violence to a man who stood before 
him like a nobleman as he is, and has been all his life long." 

" Hear me, Schmeie," said Anton, looking wondering at 
the Galician, who still harped upon the same string, trying 
to regain his composure by dint of speaking. " Hear me, 

T 



290 



DEBIT AXD CREDIT. 



loy lad ; you were in this town when our wagons were 
plundered — you saw from some hiding-place or other our 
quarrel with the landlord — you know the man's character, 
and yet you remain here ; and now I will just tell you, in so 
many words, what you have half confessed to me — you 
knew of the unloading of the wagons, and more, you had 
an interest in the carriers remaining behind ; and, in short, 
you and the landlord are in the same boat. After what you 
have now said, I shall not let you go till I know all. You 
shall either come with me to my room, and there freely 
c(mfess, or I will take you to the soldiers, and have you 
examined by them." 

Tinkeles was annihilated. " God of my fathers, it is 
fearful, it is fearful ! " whined he, and his teeth chattered. 

Anton felt compassion for his great terror, and said : 
" Come with me, Tinkeles, and I promise you that if you 
make a candid confession, nothing shall be done to you." 

" Wliat shall I confess to the gentleman?" groaned 
Tinkeles ; "I, who have nothing to confess." 

" If you will not come at once, I call the soldiers," said 
Anton roughly. 

"No soldiers!" implored Tinkeles, shuddering again. 
" I will come with you, and will tell you what I know, if you 
will promise to betray me to no one, not to your principal, 
not to Mausche Fischel, and not either to the wicked man, 
the landlord, and not to any soldiers." 

" Come," said Anton, pointing down the street. And 
so he led away the reluctant Tinkeles like a prisoner, and 
never took his eyes off him, fearing that he would follow 
the suggestions of his evil conscience, and run off down 
some side street. The Galician, however, had not courage to 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



291 



do this, but crept along by Anton, looked towards him every 
now and then, sighing deeply, and gurgled out unintelligible 
words. Arrived at Anton's lodging, he began of his own 
accord : — " It has been a weight on my heart — I have not 
been able to sleep — I have not been able to eat or drink ; 
and whenever I ran here or there on business, it has lain 
on my soul just as a stone does in a glass — when one 
tries to drink, the stone falls against the teeth, and the 
water spills. Alas ! what have I not spilt !" 

" Go on," said Anton, again mollified by the candid con- 
fession. 

" I came here on account of the wagons," continued 
Tiukeles, looking timidly at Anton. " Mausche has dealt 
with your firm for ten years, and always uprightly, and you 
have made a good sum of money out of him, and so he 
thought that the time was come when he might do a 
business of his own, and settle his account with you. And 
when the uproar began, he came to me and said, ' Schmeie,' 
said he, ' you are not afraid,' said he. ' Let them 
shoot away, and go you amongst them and see that you 
keep the wagons for me. Perhaps you can sell them, per- 
haps you can bring them back ; at all events, it is better 
that we should have them than any one else.' And so I came 
and waited till the wagons arrived, and I spoke with the 
landlord, saying, that since the goods could not reach you, 
it was better they should fall into our hands. But that the 
landlord should prove such a man of blood, that I did not 
wish, and did not know, and since I saw how he cut your 
master's arm, I have had no peace, and I have ever seen 
before me the bloody shirt, and the fine cloth of his great- 
coat, which was cut in two." 



292 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Anton listened to this confession vnth an interest that 
outweighed the aversion he felt to these — not uncommon — 
manoeuvres of Galician traders. He contented himself with 
saying to the delinquent, " Your rascality has cost Mr. 
Schroter a wounded arm ; and had we not appeared upon 
the scene, you would have stolen from us twenty thousand 
dollars." 

" Not twenty thousand," cried Schmeie ; " wool is very 
low, and there's nothing to be made of tallow. Less than 
twenty thousand." 

"Indeed!" said Anton disdainfully; "and now, what 
am I to do with you V 

" Do nothing with me," implored Schmeie, laying his 
hand on Anton's coat. " Let the whole matter go to sleep. 
You have the goods, be satisfied with that. It was a good 
business that which Mausche Fischel was not able to un- 
dertake because you hindered him." 

" You still regret it," said Anton indignantly. 

" I am glad that you have the property," replied the 
Jew, " because you shed your blood about it. And therefore 
do nothing with me ; I will see whether I can't please you 
in other matters. If you have anything for me to do in 
this place, it will be a satisfaction to me to help you." 

Anton coldly replied : " Although I have promised not 
to bring your thievishness to judgment, yet we can never 
deal with you again. You are a worthless man, Tinkeles, 
and have dealt unfairly with our house. Henceforth we 
are strangers." 

" Why do you call me worthless ?" complained Tinkeles. 
" You have known me as an upright man for years past ; 
how can you call me worthless because I wanted to do a 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



293 



little stroke of business, and was unfortunate and could 
not do it 1 — Is that worthless ? " 

" Enough," said Anton ; " you may go." Tinkeles re 
mained standing, and asked whether Anton required any 
new imperial ducats. " I want nothing from you," was the 
reply. "Go!" 

The Jew went slowly to the door, and then, turning 
round, observed : " There is an excellent bargain to be 
made with oats ; if you will undertake it with me, I will 
go shares with you — there is much money to be made 
by it." 

" I have no dealings with you, Tinkeles. In Heaven's 
name, go away!" 

The Jew crept out, once more scratching at the door, 
but not venturing in. A few minutes later, Anton saw 
him cross the street, looking much dejected. 

From that time Anton was regularly besieged by the re- 
pentant Tinkeles. Not a day passed without the Galician 
forcing an entrance, and seeking a reconciliation after his 
fashion. Sometimes they met in the streets, sometimes 
Anton was disturbed when writing by his unsteady knock ; 
he had always something to offer, or some tidings to impart, 
through which he hoped to find favour. His power of in- 
vention was quite touching. He offered to buy or sell 
anything or everything, to transact any kind of business, 
to spy or carry messages ; and when he found out that 
Anton was a good deal with the military, and that a certain 
young lieutenant, in particular, went often with him to the 
" Restauration," Tinkeles began to offer whatever he con- 
ceived might prove attractive to an officer. True, Anton 
remained firm in his resolve of not dealing with him, but 



294 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



at last he had no longer the heart to treat the poor devil 
roughly ; and Tinkeles found out from many a suppressed 
smile, or short question put, that Anton's intercession for 
him with the principal was not quite hopeless. And 
for this he served with the perseverance of his ancestor 
Jacob. 

One morning, young Rothsattel came clattering into 
Anton's room. " I have been on the sick list. I had a 
bad catarrh, and was obliged to remain in my comfortless 
quarters," said he, throwing himself on the sofa. "Can 
you help me to while away time this evening 1 We are to 
have a game at whist. I have invited our doctor and a 
few of our men. Will you come ? " Pleased and a little 
flattered, Anton accepted. "Very well," continued the 
young gentleman ; " then you must give me the power of 
losing my money to you. That wretched vingt-et-un has 
emptied my pockets. Lend me twenty ducats for eight 
days." 

" With pleasure," said Anton ; and he eagerly produced 
his purse. 

Just as the lieutenant carelessly pocketed it, a horse's 
hoofs were heard in the street, and he rushed to the 
window. " By Jove, that is a lovely thing — pure Polish 
blood — the horse-dealer has stolen it from one of the 
rebels, and now wants to tempt an honest soldier with 
it." 

" How do you know that the horse is to be sold ? " 
asked Anton, sealing a letter at the writing-table. 

" Don't you see that the creature is led about by a rogue 
to attract notice?" 

At that moment, there was a light knock at the door. 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



295 



and Schmeie Tinkeles first inserted his curly head, and 
then his black caftan, and f;;urgled submissively : "I wished 
to ask their honours whether they would look at a horse 
that is worth as many louis-d'or as it costs dollars. If you 
would just step to the window, Mr. Wohlfart, you would 
see it — seeing is not buying." 

" Is this one of your mercantile friends, Wohlfart ?" 
asked the lieutenant, laughing. 

"He is so no longer ; he is fallen into disgrace," replied 
Anton in the same tone. " This time his visit is intended 
for you, Herr von Rothsattel. Take care, or he wiU tempt 
you to buy the horse." 

The dealer listened attentively to the dialogue, and 
looked with much curiosity at the lieutenant. 

" If the gracious Baron will buy the horse," said he, 
coming forward, and staring at the young officer, " it will 
be a beautiful saddle-horse for him on his estate." 

" What the deuce do you know about my estate ? " 
said the lieutenant ; " I have none." 

" Do you know this gentleman ? " asked Anton. 

" How should I not know him, if it be he who has the 
great estate in your country, in which he has built a 
factory, where he makes sugar out of fodder." 

" He means your father," explained Anton. " Tinkeles 
has connexions in our province, and often stays months 
there." 

"What do I hear? " cried the Galician ; "the father of 
this worshipful officer ! Your pardon, Mr. Wohlfart, so you 
are acquainted with the Baron, who is the father of this 
gentleman ! " A smile hovered over the lieutenant's 
moustache. 



296 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" I have, at all events, seen this gentleman's father," re- 
plied Anton, annoyed with the pertinacious questioning of 
the trader, and with himself for blushing. 

" And forgive me if I ask whether you know this gen- 
tleman intimately, and whether he is what one calls your 
good friend 

" What are you driving at, Tinkeles ?" said Anton 
sharply, and blushed still deeper, not knowing exactly how 
to answer the question. 

" Yes, Jew, he is my good friend," said the lieutenant, 
clapping Anton on the shoulder. "He is my cashier ; he 
has just lent me twenty ducats, and he won't give me any 
money to buy your horse. So go to the devil." 

The trader listened attentively to every word spoken ; 
and looked at the young men with curiosity, but, as Anton 
remarked, with a degree of sympathy foreign to his nature. 
" So," he repeated mechanically, " he has lent you twenty 
ducats — he would lend you more if you asked him — I 
know, I know. So you do not want the horse, Mr. 
Wohlfart ! My services to you, IMr. Wohlfart ; " and, so 
saying, he vanished, and soon the quick trot of a horse 
was heard. 

" What a fellow that is ! " cried the lieutenant, looking 
out after him. 

" He is not generally so easy to get rid of," said Anton, 
perplexed at the strange conduct of the Jew. " Perhaps 
your uniform expedited his departure." 

"I hope it was of some use to you, then. Good-bye 
till the evening," said the lieutenant, taking his leave. 

That afternoon the light knocking was heard again, and 
Tinkeles re-appeared. He looked cautiously around the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



297 



room, and approached Anton. "Allow me to ask," said 
he, with a confidential wink ; "is it really true that you 
lent him twenty ducats, and would lend him more if he 
wished?" 

Anton assented to both these propositions. " And now," 
said he, " tell me plainly what is running in your head ? 
for I see you have something to disclose." 

Tinkeles made a sly face, and winked harder. " Even 
though he be your good friend, beware of lending him 
money. If you know what you are about, you will lend 
him no more money." 

" And why not 1 " inquired Anton. " Your good advice 
is useless, unless I know on what it is founded." 

" And if I tell you what I know, will you intercede for 
me with Mr. Schroter, so that he may not think about the 
wagons when he sees me in his counting-house 1 " 

" I will tell him that you have behaved well in other 
respects. It will be for him to decide what he will do." 

" You will intercede for me," said Tinkeles ; " that's 
enough. Things are going ill with Von Rothsattel, the 
father of this young man — very ill. Misfortune's black 
hand is raised over him. He is a lost man. There is no 
saving him." 

" How do you know this ? " cried Anton, horrified. 
" But it is impossible," he added more calmly ; " it is a 
lie, a mere idle rumour." 

" Believe my words," said the Jew impressively. " His 
father is in the hands of one who walks about in secret, 
like the angel of destruction. He goes and lays his noose 
around the necks of the men he has singled out, without 
any one seeing him. He tightens the noose, and they fall 



298 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



around like ninepins. Why should you lend your money 
to those who have the noose around their neck 1 " 

" Who is this demon who has the Baron in his power ? " 
cried Anton in uncontrollable excitement. 

" What signifies the name ? " coolly replied the Galician. 
" Even if I knew it, I would not tell it ; and if I told it, it 
could do you no good, nor the Baron either, for you know 
him not, and he knows him not." 

" Is it Ehrenthal 1 " inquired Aiiton. 

" I cannot tell the name," rejoined the trader, shrugging 
his shoulders ; " but it is not Hirsch Ehrenthal." 

" If I am to believe your words, and if you wish to do 
me a service," continued Anton, more composedly, " you 
must give me exact information. I must know this man's 
name; must know all that you have heard of him, and of 
the Baron." 

" I have heard nothing," replied the trader doggedly ; 
"if you wish to examine me as they do in the courts of 
law. A word that is spoken flies through the air like a 
scent ; one perceives it, another does not. I cannot tell 
you the words I have heard, and I will not tell them for 
much money. What I say is meant for your ear alone. 
To you I say that two men have sat together, not one, but 
many evenings ; not one, but many years ; and they have 
whispered in the balcony of our inn, under which the water 
runs. And the water whispered below them, and they whis- 
pered above the water. I lay in the 'room on my bed of 
straw, so that they believed I was asleep. And I have often 
heard the name of Rothsattel from the lips of both, and 
the name of his estate too. And I know that misfortune 
hovers over him, but further I know not. And now I 



DEBIT AND CRJiDIT. 



299 



have said all, and will go. The good advice I have this 
day given you, will make up for the day when you fought 
for the wool and the hides. And you will remember the 
promise you have made me." 

Anton was lost in thought. He knew from Bernhard 
that Ehrenthal was in many ways intimately connected 
with the Baron ; and this link between the landed pro- 
prietor and the ill-spoken-of speculator, had often seemed 
to him unaccountable. But Tinkeles' story was too in- 
credible, for he had never himself heard any unfavourable 
account of the Baron's circumstances. " I cannot," said 
he, after a long pause, " be satisfied with what you have 
told me. You wUl think the mxatter over, and perhaps 
you will remember the name, and some of the words you 
heard." 

" Perhaps I may," said the Galician with a peculiar ex- 
pression, which Anton in his perplexity quite lost. " And 
now we have squared our accounts. I have occasioned 
you anxiety and danger, but, on the other hand, I have 
done you a service, — a great service," he repeated com- 
placently. "Would you take louis-d'or instead of bank- 
notes ? " asked he, suddenly falling into a business tone ; 
" if so, I can let you have them." 

" You know that I have no money transactions," replied 
Anton absently. 

"Perhaps you can give Vienna bills drawn upon safe 
houses." 

"I have no bills to give," said Anton, with some 
irritation. 

"Very well," said the Jew, "a question does no 
harm ;" and he turned to go, stopping, however, when he 



300 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



reached the door. " I was obliged to give two florins to 
Seligmann, wlio led the horse, and waited half a day upon 
the gentleman's pleasure. It was a mere advance 
that I made for you, will you not give me my two florins 
back?" 

" Heaven be praised ! " cried Anton, laughing in spite 
of himself ; now we have the old Tinkeles once more. 
No, Schmeie, you won't get your two florins." 

" And you will not take louis-d'or in exchange for Vienna 
notes ? " 

" I will not." 

" Adieu ! " said Tinkeles ; " and now, when we meet 
again, we are good friends." He lifted the latch. " If 
you want to know the name of the man who can make 
Von Rothsattel as small as the grass in the streets 
which every one treads upon, inquire for Hirsch Ehren- 
thal's book-keeper, of the name of Itzig. Veitel Itzig is 
the name." With these words he made his exit so 
rapidly, that although Anton tried, he could not overtake 
him. 

He determined at once to inform the Baron's son of 
what he had heard, though he feared that it would occasion 
his tender nature great distress. " But it must be done 
this very evening," thought he. " I will go early, or re- 
main till the others have left." 

Fate, however, did not favour this intention. Early as 
Anton went, he found five or six young cavalry ofl&cers 
already arrived at young Rothsattel' s rooms before him. 
Eugene lay in his dressing-gown on the sofa — the squadron 
encamping round him. The doctor succeeded Anton. 
" How are you ? " said he to the patient. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



301 



" Well enough," replied Eugene. " I don't want your 
powders." 

A little fever," continued the doctor. " Pulse full, and 
so on. It is too hot here. I propose that we open the 
window." 

" By Jove, doctor, you shall do no such thing," cried a 
young gentleman, who had made himself a sort of couch 
of two chairs ; " you know that I can't stand a draught 
except when on duty." 

"Leave it alone," cried Eugene; "we are homoeopathists 
here, we will drive out heat by heat. What shall we 
drink ? " 

" A mild punch would be best for the patient," said the 
doctor. 

" Bring the pine-apple, my good Anton ; it is somewhere 
there, with the rest of the apparatus." 

" Ha ! " cried the doctor, as Anton produced the fruit, 
and the servant came in with a basket of wine ; "a sweet 
Colossus, a remarkable specimen indeed ! With your leave, 
I'll make the punch. The proportions must have some 
reference to the state of the patient." 

So saying, the doctor put his hand into his pocket, and 
brought out a black case, in which he looked for a knife to 
cut the fruit. 

The young hussars broke out at once into a voUey of 
oaths. 

"My good sirs," cried the doctor, little moved by the 
storm he had raised ; " has any one of you got a knife ? 
Not one, I know. There is nothing to be found in your 
pockets but looking-glasses and brushes ; and which of 
you understands the making of a bowl that a man of the 



302 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



world can drink ? You can, indeed, empty one, but make 
it you cannot." 

" I will try what I can do, doctor," said Boiling from a 
c(jmer. 

"Ah! Herr von Boiling, are you here too?" replied the 
doctor, with a bow. 

Boiling took the pine-apple, and carefully held it out of 
reach of the medical arm. " Come here, Anton," said he, 
"and take care that that monster of a doctor does not 
approach our punch with his dissecting-knife." 

While these two were brewing, the doctor took out two 
packs of cards, and solemnly laid them on the table. 

"None of your cards!" cried Eugene; "to-day at least 
let us be together without sinning." 

"You cant," said the doctor mockingly; "you'll be the 
first to touch them. I thought of nothing but a quiet 
game at whist, a game for pious hermits. Time, however, 
will show what you will make of these packs; there they 
lie by the candlesticks." 

"Don't listen to the tempter," cried one of the lieu- 
tenants, laughing. 

" Whoever touches the cards first shall forfeit a break- 
fast to the party," said another. 

"Here is the punch," said Boiling, setting down the 
bowl. " Taste it, man of blood !" 

"Raw!" pronounced the oracle; "it would be drinkable 
to-morrow evening." 

While these gentlemen were disputing about the merits of 
the beverage, Eugene took up one of the packs of cards, and 
mechanically cut them. The doctor exclaimed, " Caught, 
I declare! He himself is the one to pay the forfeit!" 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



303 



All laughed, and crowded round the table. "The bank, 
doctor," cried the oflScers, throwing him the cards. Soon 
other packs came out of other pockets; and the doctor 
laying a little heap of paper and silver on the table, the 
game began. The stakes were not high ; and light jests 
accompanied the loss and gain of the players. Even Anton 
took a card and staked away without much thought. He 
found it difficult, though, to take any cordial part in the 
entertainment, and looked with sincere sympathy at 
young Rothsattel bending, in his ignorance, over the 
cards. He himself won a few dollars, but remarked with 
pain that Eugene was invariably unlucky. As, however, he 
was a party concerned in this, he made no remark ; but 
the doctor himself said to his patient, after having again 
swept away the ducats the former had put down, " You 
are getting hot ; you are feverish ; if you are prudent, you 
will play no more. I have never yet had a fever-patient 
who did not lose at Pharao." 

"That won't do, doctor," replied Eugene sharply, and 
staked again. 

" You are unlucky, Eugene," cried the good-humoured 
Boiling. "You go on too fast." 

His deal over, the doctor took up the cards and placed 
them in his pocket. " The bank has won immensely," said 
he ; " but I leave off, I have made enough." 

Again a storm rose amongst the officers. " I will hold 
the bank," cried Eugene ; " give me your cash, Wohlfart." 

The doctor protested, but at length gave in, thinking, 
" Perhaps he'll have a run of luck as banker ; one must not 
refuse a man a chance of compensation." 

Anton took some bank-notes out of his pocket, and kiid 



304 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



them down before Eugene, but he himself played no more. 
He sat there sadly, and looked at his friend, who, heated 
by wine and fever, stared fixedly at the cards of the players. 
Deal succeeded deal, and Eugene lost all he had before him. 
The officers glanced at each other in amazement. 

"I too propose that we leave off," said Boiling; "we 
will give you your revenge another time." 

" I will have it to-day," cried Eugene, springing up, and 
shutting the door. "Not one of you shall stir. Keep 
your places and play; here is money." He threw a bundle 
of matches on the table. " Every match stands for a dollar ; 
no stake under. I will pay to-morrow." The game went 
on ; Eugene continued to lose ; the matches were scattered 
in all directions, as by some secret spell. Eugene got 
another bundle, exclaiming wildly, " We'U reckon when we 
separate ! " 

Boiling rose, and stamped with his chair, 

" Whoever leaves the room is a scoundrel !" cried Eugene. 

"You are a fool!" said the other, angrily. "It is a 
shame to take all a comrade's money as we are doing to- 
day. I have never seen such a thing. If it be Satan's 
contriving, I will not help him further." He rose and sat 
apart. Anton joined him. Both looked on in silence at 
the desperate way in which gold was flung about. 

" I too have had enough of it," said the doctor, showing 
a thick bundle of matches in his hand. " This is a singular 
evening; since I have known cards, such a case as this 
has never come within my experience." 

Once more Eugene sprang to the side-table where the 
matches lay, but Boiling seized the whole box, and flung 
them into the street. " Better that they bum our boots 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



305 



than your purse," cried he. Then throwing the cards on 
the floor. " The game shall cease, I say." 

" I will not be dictated to thus," retorted Eugene in a 
rage. 

Boiling buckled on his sword, and laid his hand on the 
hilt. " I will talk to you to-morrow. And now make your 
reckoning, gentlemen," said he; " we are going to break up." 

The counters were thrown on the table, the doctor count- 
ing. Eugene gloomily took out his pocket-book, and 
entered into it the amount of his debt to each. The com- 
pany retired without any courteous greetings. 

On the way, the doctor said, " He owes eight hundred 
dollars." 

Boiling shrugged his shoulders. "I hope he can raise 
the money ; but I do wish you had kept your cards in yoiu: 
pocket. If the story gets about, Rothsattel will have cause 
to regret it. We shall all do oiu: best to hush it up, and 
I request you, ]\Ir. Wolilfart, to do the same." 

Anton returned to his lodgings in the utmost excitement. 
The whole evening he had sat upon thorns, and silently 
reproached the spendthrift. He regretted having lent him 
monej", and yet felt it would have been impossible to refuse. 

The following morning, just as he was setting out to pay 
Eugene a visit, the door opened, and Eugene himself entered, 
out of tune, dejected, unsteady. 

" A horrid piece of ill-luck yesterday," cried he. " I am 
in great straits ; I must get hold of eight hundred dollars, 
and have not in all this luckless town a friend to whom I 
can turn, except you. Exert your faculties, Anton, and 
contrive to get me the money." 

" It is no easy matter for me to do so," replied Anton 
u 



306 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



gravely. " The sum is no inconsiderable one, and the 
money which I have here at my disposal is not my own." 

" You will contrive it though," continued Eugene, per- 
severing; "if you do not help me out of this scrape, I know 
not where to turn. Our colonel is not to be trifled with : 
I risk the loss of all if the matter be not soon settled and 
hushed up." And in his distress he took Anton's hand 
and pressed it. 

Anton looked at the troubled face of Lenore's brother, 
and replied with an inward struggle : — " I have a little 
sum belonging to me invested in the funds of our house, 
and have now got money to transmit thither ; it would 
be possible to tell the cashier to take my money and to keep 
back the sum you require." 

"You are my deliverer," cried Eugene, suddenly relieved ; 
" in a month at latest I will repay you the eight hundred 
dollars," added he, inclined at the speedy prospect of money 
to hope the best. 

Anton went to his desk and counted out the sum. It was 
the larger part of what still remained of his inheritance. 

When Eugene had with warmest thanks pocketed the 
money,. Anton began — " And now, Herr von Rothsattel, I 
wish to communicate something which weighed upon my 
heart all yesterday evening. I beg that you will not con- 
sider me intrusive if I tell you what you ought to know, 
and yet what a stranger has hardly a right to say." 

" If you are going to sermonize me, the moment is iU 
chosen," replied the lieutenant sulkily. " I know perfectly 
that I have done a stupid thing, and am in for a lecture 
from my papa. I do not wish to hear from another what 
I must listen to from him." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



307 



" You trust very little to my good feeling," cried Anton 
indignantly ; " I yesterday heard from a very singular source 
that your father has got into difficulties through the in- 
trigues of an unprincipled speculator. I even heard the 
name of the man who is plotting his ruin." 

The lieutenant looked in amazement at Anton's earnest 
face, and at last said — " The devil ! you frighten me. But 
no ; it is impossible. Papa has never told me anything 
about his aflfairs being out of order." 

" Perhaps he himself does not know the schemes, or the 
worthlessness of the men who mean to use his credit for 
their own ends." 

The Baron of Rothsattel is not the man to be made a 
tool .of by any one." 

" That I agree to," said Anton readily ; " and yet I must 
beg you to reflect that his late extensive undertakings may 
have brought him into contact with cunning and unprin- 
cipled traders. He who gave me this information evidently 
did it with a good purpose. He announced his belief, 
which is, I fear, widely shared by a number of inferior 
men of business, that your father is in grave danger of 
losing severely. I now request that you will go with me 
to the man, perhaps we shall succeed in eliciting more from 
him. He is the very Jew you saw with me yesterday." 

The lieutenant looked down in deep dejection, and with- 
out saying a word, took up his cap and accompanied Anton 
to the inn at which Tinkeles was staying. 

" It will be better that you should ask for him," said 
Anton on the way. So the officer entered and asked every 
servant that he met, and then the landlord. Schmeie had 
left in the middle of the previous day. They hurried from 



308 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



the inn to the government oflQces, and there found that 
Tinkeles had taken out his passport for the Turkish frontier. 
His departure made his warning appear the more important. 
Tlie longer they discussed the matter, the more excited the 
lieutenant became, and the less he knew what to do. At 
last he broke out — " My father is, perhaps, now distressed 
for money, and how am I to tell him of my debt ? It is a 
dreadful case. Wohlfart, you are a good fellow for lending 
me the money, though this wandering Jew's report was in 
your head. You must be still more accommodating, and 
lend me the sum for a longer time." 

" Until you yourself express a wish to repay it." 

" That is kind," cried the lieutenant ; " and now do one 
thing more : write to my father. You know best what this 
confounded man has told you, and it would be a great bore 
to me to have to tell a thing of the kind to papa." 

" But your father may well consider the interference of 
a stranger unwarrantable impertinence," rejoined Anton, 
oppressed by the idea of having to write to Lenore's father. 

" My father already knows you," said Eugene per- 
suasively ; "I remember my sister talking to me about 
you. Just say that I entreated you to write. It would 
really be better that you should do so." 

Anton consented. He sat down at once, and informed 
the Baron of the warning given by the wool-dealer. And 
thus he, while far away, came into new relations with the 
family of the Baron, which were destined to have important 
consequences for him and them alike. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



309 



CHAPTER XXII. 

TJAPPY the foot that can roam over a wide expanse of 
property — happy the head which knows how to sub- 
ject the forces of ever-fresh nature to an intelligent human 
will ! All that makes man strong, healthy, worthy, is 
given in portion to the agriculturist : his life is a ceaseless 
battle, and a ceaseless victory. The pure air of heaven 
steels the muscles of his body, and the primeval order of 
nature forces his thoughts too into a regular orbit. Other 
species of industry may become obsolete ; his is enduring as 
the earth : other tastes may prison men in narrow walls, 
in the depths of the earth, or between the planks of a ship ; 
his glance has only two boundaries — the blue sky above, 
the firm earth below. His is almost the rapture of creation ; 
for whatever his edict demands from organic or inorganic 
nature, springs up beneath his hand. Even the towns- 
man's heart is refreshed by the green blade and the golden 
ear, the quietly pasturing cow and the frisking colt, the 
shade of the woods and the perfume of the fields ; but far 
stronger, higher, nobler is the enjoyment of the man who, 
walking over his own land, can say — " All this is mine, all 
this is a blessing upon my energy and insight." For he 
does not merely supinely enjoy the picture before him : 



310 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



some definite wish accompanies every glance, some resolve 
every impression. Everj^thing has a meaning for him, and 
he a purpose regarding it. Daily labour is his delight, and 
it is a delight that quickens each faculty. So lives the 
man who is himself the industrious cultivator of his own 
soil. 

And three times happy the proprietor of land where a 
battle with nature has been carried on for long years. The 
ploughshare sinks deep into the well-cleaned ground, the 
ears hang heavy on the well-grown corn, and the turnip 
swells to colossal size. Then comes the time when a new 
form of industry is added to the old. Strange shapes of 
machinery are seen near the farm-buildings, giant caldrons, 
mighty wheels, and huge pipes, while the grinding and 
turning of the engines goes on ceaselessly by day and 
night. A noble industry this ! It springs from the 
energies of the soil, and increases them a hundi'ed-fold. 
When the fruits of his own ground are devoted to the 
factory, the ancient plough without, the new steam-engine 
within, unite in perfect harmony to make their owner 
richer, stronger, and wiser. His life is linked, by many 
ties, to men of other callings, and strangers rejoice to hold 
out their hands to him, and unite their efforts with his. 
The circle of his interests goes on widening, and his influ- 
ence over others increasing. 

Near to the dwelling of a man like this, a new race of 
labourers build cottages of every degree, all comes right to 
him, and can be turned to profit. The value of the land 
rises yearly, and the tempting prospect of great returns, im- 
pels even the obstinate peasantry out of the old accustomed 
track. The wretched path becomes a good road ; the marshy 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



311 



ditch, a canal. Wagons pass along from field to field, red- 
tiled roofs rise in once desolate stations ; the postman, who 
formerly came in twice a week, appears daily now, his bag 
heavy with letters and newspapers, and as he stops at some 
new house to bring the young wife, lately settled there, a 
letter from her home, he gratefully accepts the glass of 
milk she off'ers him in her delight, and tells her how long 
the way used to be from village to village in the summer 
heat. Soon new wants arise — -the childish hangers on 
to all progress. The needle of the tailor has many a 
new stuff to pierce, the small shopkeeper sets up his store 
between the cottages, the village schoolmaster complains of 
the multitude of his scholars. A second school is built, an 
adult class established — the teacher keeps the first germ of 
the lending library in a cupboard in his own room, and the 
bookseller in the next town sends him books for sale. And 
thus the life of the prosperous agriculturist is a blessing to 
the district, nay to the whole country. 

But, woe to the landed proprietor when the ground he 
treads has fallen into the power of strangers ! He is lost 
if his crops fail to satisfy their claims ; and the genii of 
nature give their smiles to him only who confronts them 
freely and securely — they revolt when they discern weak- 
ness, precipitation, and half-measures. No undertaking any 
longer prospers. The yellow blossom of the turnip, and 
the blue flowers of the flax wither without fruit. Rust 
and gangrene appear among the cattle, the shrivelled potato 
sickens and dies ; all these, long accustomed to obey skill, 
flow cruelly avenge neglect. Then the daily walk through 
the fields becomes a daily curse ; the very lark that springs 
from the corn reminds him that it is all sold as it stands ; 



312 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



the yoke of oxen carrying the clover to the barn, suggests 
that the whole yield of the dairy belongs to a creditor. 
Gloomy, morose, despairing, the man returns home. It is 
natural that he should become a stranger to his farm, should 
seek to escape from painful thoughts in change of scene, 
and his absence precipitates his do^vnfal. The one thing 
that might yet save him, a complete surrender of himself to 
his avocations, is become intolerable. 

Woe, threefold woe, to the landed proprietor who has pre- 
cipitately invoked the black art of steam to settle on his land, 
in order to educe from it energies which it does not possess ! 
The heaviest curse that mortal man can know has fallen 
upon him. He not only becomes weaker himself, but he 
deteriorates all those whom he takes into his service. All 
that still remains to him is torn to fragments by the rota- 
tion of the wheels he has madly introduced, his oxen and 
his horses are worn out by the heavy demands the factory 
makes upon them, his worthy farm-servants are transformed 
into a dirty, hungry proletariat. "Wliere once the necessary 
work at least was obediently performed, contention, cheating, 
and opposition prevail. He himself is swept away in a 
vortex of complicated business, claims surge in upon him 
wave upon wave, and he, in his desperate struggle, drown- 
ing man that he is, has no choice but to cling to whatever 
comes within his grasp, and then, wearied by his fruitless 
efforts, to sink into the abyss. 

Once the Barons lands had borne better crops than 
those of his neighbours, his herds were acknowledged to be 
thoroughly healthy, bad years, which crushed others, had 
passed comparatively lightly over him. Now, aU this was 
reversed as by some evil spell. A contagious disease broke 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



313 



out amongst the cattle, the wheat grew tall indeed, but 
when it came to be threshed the grain was light. Every- 
where the out-goings exceeded the in-comings. Once upon a 
time he could have borne this calmly, now it made him 
positively ill. He began to hate the sight of his farm, 
and left it entirely to the bailiff. All his hopes centred in 
the factory, and if he ever visited his fields, it was only 
to look after the beet-root. 

The new buildings rose behind the trees of the park. 
The voices of many busy labourers sounded shrill around 
it. The first crop of beet was brought in and heaped up 
ready for the mill. On the following day, the regidar 
factory work was to begin, and yet the coppersmith was 
still hammering there, mechanics were working away at 
the great engine, and busy women carrying off chips and 
fragments of mortar, and scouring the scenes of their future 
labour. The Baron stood before the building, listening 
impatiently to the beating of the hammer which had been 
so dilatory in completing its task. The morrow was to 
be to him the beginning of a new era. He stood now 
at the door of his treasure-house. He might now cast all 
his old cares away ; during the next year he should be able 
to pay off what he owed, and then he would begin to put 
by. But while he thus speculated, his eye fell upon his 
overworked horses, and the anxious face of his old bailiff, 
and a vague fear crept, like a loathly insect, over the 
fluttering leaves of his hopes. For he had staked all on 
this cast, he had so mortgaged his land, that at this 
moment he hardly knew how much of it was his own ; and 
all this to raise still higher the social dignity of his family- 
tree ! 



314 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



The Baron himself was much altered during the last few 
years. A wrinkled brow, two fretful lines around the 
mouth, and grey hair on the temples ; these were the 
results of his eternal thought about capital, his family, and 
the future aggrandisement of the property. His voice, 
which once sounded strong and full, had become sharp and 
thin, and every gesture betrayed irritation and impatience. 

The Baron had, indeed, had heavy cares of late. He 
had thoroughly learnt the misery of extensive building 
operations, combined with a scarcity of money. Ehrenthal 
was now become a regular visitor at the Castle. Every 
week his horses consumed the Baron s good hay ; every 
week he brought out his pocket-book, and reckoned up 
the account, or paid off bills. His hand, which at first 
so readily and reverentially sought his purse, did so now 
tardily and reluctantly ; his bent neck had become stiff, 
his submissive smile had changed into a dry greeting ; 
he walked with a scrutinizing air through the farm, and, 
instead of fervent praises, found many a fault. The 
humble agent had grown into the creditor, and the Baron 
had to bear, with still increasing aversion, the preten- 
sions of a man with whom he could no longer dispense. 
And not Ehrenthal alone, but many a strange figure be- 
sides, knocked at the Baron's study, and had private deal- 
ings with him there. The broad shape of the uncouth 
Pinkus appeared every quarter, and each time that his 
heavy foot ascended the Castle stairs, discord and dissatis- 
faction followed. 

Every week, as we said, Ehrenthal had visited the estate : 
now came the most anxious time of all, and no eye beheld 
him. Tliey said, in the town, that he was gone off upon a 



DEBIT AND CKEDIT. 



315 



journey ; and the Baron was listening restlessly to the noise 
of every carriage that passed, wondering whether it brought 
the tardy, the hated, yet the indispensable visitor. 

Lenore now joined her father, a radiant beauty, full in 
form, and tall in stature, but somewhat shadowed by life's 
cares, as her thoughtful eyes and the anxious glance she 
cast at the Baron plainly proved. " The post is come in," 
said she, reaching him a packet of letters and newspapers ; 
" I daresay there is no letter from Eugene again 1 " 

" He has many other things to do," replied her father ; 
but he himself looked eagerly for the handwriting of his 
son. Then he saw a direction in a strange hand, and 
on the letter the post-mark of the very town in which 
Eugene was quartered. It was Anton's letter. The Baron 
tore it open. When he had seen from its respectful tenor, 
how well it was meant, and had read the name of Itzig 
in it, he put it up in his pocket. The secret terror which 
had so often shot through his heart fell upon him again, 
and then followed the unwelcome thought that his embar- 
rassments were the subject of conversation, even in foreign 
towns. Ill-timed warnings were the -last thing that he 
wanted ; they only humbled. He stood long in gloomy 
silence by his daughter. But as the letter contained 
tidings of Eugene, he forced himself at length to speak. 
" A ]Mr. Wohlfart has written to me. He is now travelling, 
in his mercantile capacity, on the other side of the frontier, 
and has made Eugene's acquaintance." 

" He ! " cried Lenore. 

" He seems to be an estimable kind of man," said the 
Baron with an efifort. " He speaks affectionately of 
Eugene." 



316 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



" Yes ! " cried Lenore in delight ; " one leams to know 
what conscientiousness and stability mean when one asso- 
ciates with him. What a strange coincidence ! The sister 
and the brother. What has he written to you about, 
father 1 " 

" Matters of business, kindly meant, no doubt, but not 
of any present use to me. The foolish boys have heard 
some idle rumour, and have unnecessarily troubled them- 
selves about my afSairs." And so saying, he gloomily 
walked towards his factory. 

Much perturbed, Lenore followed him. At length he 
opened the newspaper, and carelessly turned it over till his 
eye fell upon a certain advertisement. His face flushed 
deeply, the paper fell out of his hand, and catching hold of 
one of the wagons, he leant his head upon it. Lenore, 
much shocked, took up the paper, and saw the name of 
the Polish estate on which she knew that her father had a 
large mortgage. A day w^as specified for the sale of that 
estate by auction, on behalf of a concourse of creditors. 

The intelligence fell like a thunderbolt upon the Baron. 
Since he had burdened his own property, the sum that 
he had invested in Poland was his last hope of well-doing. 
He had often doubted whether he was not foolish to leave 
his money in the hands of strangers abroad, and to pay 
so high an interest to strangers at home ; but he had 
always had a horror of being led to invest this round sum 
in his undertakings, considering it in the light of his wife's 
jointure, and his daughter's portion. Now it, too, was 
endangered, the last security had vanished. Everything 
around him reeled. Ehrenthal had deceived him. It was 
he who had carried on the correspondence with the la^vyer 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



317 



of the Polish Count. He had punctually paid him the in- 
terest when it was last due. There was no doubt that he 
had known the precaiious nature of this foreign investment, 
and had kept back the knowledge from his client. 

" Father," cried Lenore, raising him as she spoke ; 
" speak with Ehrenthal ; go to your solicitor, he may be 
able to suggest some remedy." 

" You are right, my child," said the Baron with a tone- 
less voice j " it is possible that the danger may not yet be 
imminent. Tell them to put the horses to ; I will go to 
town at once. Conceal what you have read from your 
mother, and you, dear Lenore, come with me." 

When the carriage drove up, the Baron was still in the 
very same place where he had first read the fatal tidings. 
During the journey, he sat silently in a corner of the car- 
riage. Arrived in town, he took his daughter to his lodg- 
ings, which he had not yet given up, for fear of leading his 
wife or his acquaintance to suspect that his means were 
impaired. He himself drove to Ehrenthal's. He entered 
the office in angry mood, and after a dry salutation, held 
out the newspaper to the trader. Ehrenthal rose slowly, 
and said, nodding his head, " I know it ; Lowenberg has 
written to me about it." 

"You have deceived me, ]\Ir, Ehrenthal," cried the 
Baron, striving hard for composure. 

"To what purpose ?" replied Ehrenthal "Why should 
I hide from you what the newspapers must needs reveal 1 
This may happen in the case of any estate, any mortgage ; 
what great misfortune is there in this ?" 

" The property is deeply involved, it seems : you must 
long have known this ; you have deceived me." 



318 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" What are you saying there about deceit?" cried Ehren- 
thal indignantly ; " have a care that no stranger hear your 
words. I have left my money standing with you ; what 
interest can I have in lowering you, and increasing your dif- 
ficulties ? I myself am only too deeply involved in them," 
and he pointed to the place occupied in most men by a 
heart. " Had I known that your factory would devour my 
good money, one thousand after another, even as the lean 
kine of Egypt devoured the fat, I should have taken more 
time to consider, and would not have paid you a single 
dollar. A herd of elephants will I feed with my substance, 
but never more a factory. How then can you say that I 
have deceived you ?" continued he in increasing dudgeon. 

" You have known the state of matters," cried the Baron, 
" and have disguised the Count's position from me." 

"Was it I who sold you the mortgage ?" inquired the 
offended Ehrenthal. " I have paid you the interest half- 
yearly — that is my offence ; I have paid you much money 
besides — that is my deceit." He then continued more 
conciliatingly — " Look at the matter calmly, Baron : another 
creditor has offered to purchase the estate ; the lawyers have 
not apprised us of it, or they have sent the advertisement 
to a wrong address. What of that ? You will now be 
paid your capital, and then you can pay off the mortgages 
on your own land. I hear that this estate in Poland is a 
very valuable one, so you have nothing to fear for your 
capital." 

The Baron had only to depart with this uncertain hope. 
As he dejectedly entered his carriage, he called out to the 
coachman — "To the Councillor Horn;" but on the way 
thither he gave counter orders, and returned to his lodgings. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



319 



A coolness had sprung up between him and his former 
legal adviser ; he shrunk from disclosing to him his never- 
ceasing embarrassments, and had been offended by Horn's 
well-meant warnings. He had often, therefore, applied for 
advice to other lawyers. 

Itzig, in the tenderness of his heart, had rushed out of 
the office as soon as he beheld the Baron's horses, but now 
he put in his head again. 

" How was he 1 " he inquired from Ehrenthal. 

" How should he be?" answered Ehrenthal ungraciously ; 
" he was in a gTeat taking, and I had good cause to be 
angry. I have buried my gold in his property, and I have 
as many cares about that property as I have hairs on my 
head — all because I followed your advice." 

" If you think that the ancestral inheritance of the Baron 
is to come swimming towards you like a fish with the 
stream, and that you have only to reach out your hand and 
take it, I am sorry for you," replied Itzig spitefully. 

"What am I doing with the factory V cried Ehrenthal. 
" The land would have been worth twice as much to me 
without the chimney." 

" When once you have got the chimney you can sell the 
bricks," was Itzig's ironical rejoinder. " I wanted to tell 
you that I expect a visit to-morrow from an acquaintance 
out of my own district ; I cannot therefore come to the 
office." 

" You have this last year gone after your own affairs so 
often," rudely replied Ehrenthal, " that I don't care how 
long you remain away." 

"Do you know what you have just said ?" Veitel broke 
out. " You have said, 'Itzig, I need you no longer, you may 



320 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



go;' but I shall go when it suits me, not when it suits 
you." 

" You are a bold man," cried Ehrenthal. " I forbid you 
to speak thus to me. AVho are you, young Itzig ?" 

"I am one who knows your whole business, who can 
ruin you if he will, and one who means kindly towards 
you, better than you do towards yourself ; and, therefore, 
when I come to the office the day after to-morrow, you will 
say, ' Good morning, Itzig.' Do you understand me now, 
Mr. Ehrenthal ?" and seizing his cap he hurried into the 
street, where his suppressed wrath broke out into a flame, 
and gesticulating wildly he muttered threatening words. 
And so did Ehrenthal alone in the office. 

The Baron returned to his daughter, threw himself heavily 
down on the sofa, and scarcely heard her loving words. 
There was nothing to detain him in town but the dread of 
(Communicating this intelligence to his wife. He alter- 
nately brooded over plans for getting over the possible loss, 
and painted its consequences in the blackest colours. 

IMeanwhile, Lenore sat silent at the window, looking 
down upon the noisy streets, with their rolling carriages, 
and the stream of passers-by. And while she wondered if 
any one of these had ever felt the secret anxiety, fear, and 
dejection which the last few years had brought her young 
heart, one of the throng would now and then look up to 
the plate-glass windows of the stately dwelling, and, his eye 
resting admiringly on the beautiful girl, he perhaps envied 
the happy destiny of the nobly bom, who could thus look 
calmly down on those whose lot it was to toil for daily bread. 

The streets grew dim, the lamps threw their dull rays 
into the room, Lenore watched the play of light and shade 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



321 



on the wall, and her sadness increased as the darkness 
deepened. Meanwhile two men were standing in eager 
conversation at the house-door ; the beU sounded, a heavy 
step was heard in the ante-room, and the servants an- 
nounced Mr. Pinkus. At that name the Baron rose, called 
for candles, and went to the next room. 

The innkeeper entered bobbing his great head, but seemed 
in no hurry to speak. 

"What brings you here so late ?" asked the Baron, lean- 
ing on the table like one prepared for everything. 

" Your honour knows that the bill of exchange for the 
ten thousand dollars falls due to me to-morrow." 

" Could you not wait till I paid you your full ten per 
cent, for an extension of the loan ?" asked the Baron con- 
temptuously. 

" I am come," said Pinkus, " to explain that I am sud- 
denly in want of money, and must request you to let me 
have the principal." 

The Baron retreated a step. This was the second blow, 
and it was mortal. His face turned pale yellow, but he 
began with a hoarse voice to say, " How can you make 
such a demand after all that has passed between us ? — how 
often you have assured me that this biU of exchange was 
a mere form f ' 

" It has been so hitherto," said Pinkus ; now it comes 
into force. I have ten thousand dollars to pay to-morrow 
to a creditor of mine." 

" Make arrangements with him, then," returned the 
Baron ; " I am prepared for a higher rate of interest, but 
not to pay off the principal." 

X 



322 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" Then, Baron, I am sorry to tell you that you will be 
proceeded against." 

The Baron silently turned away. 

" At what hour may I return to-morrow for my money?" 
inquired Pinkus. 

" At about this hour," replied a voice, weak and hollow 
as that of an old man. Pinkus bobbed again, and went 
away. 

The Baron tottered back to his sitting-room, where he 
sank down on the sofa as if paralyzed. Lenore knelt by 
him, calling him by eveiy tender name, and imploring 
him to speak. But he neither saw nor heard, and his 
heart and head beat violently. The fair, many-coloured 
bubble that he had blown had burst now ; he knew the 
fearful truth, he was a ruined man. 

They sat till late in the evening, when his daughter per- 
suaded him to take a glass of wine, and to return home. 
They drove away rapidly. As the trees along the roadside 
flew past him, and the fresh air blew in his face, the Baron's 
spirit revived. 

A night and day were still his, and during their course, 
he must needs find help. This was not his first difficulty, 
and he hoped it would not be his last. He had incurred 
this debt of, originally, seven thousand dollars odd, because 
the fellow who now dunned him had brought him the money 
some years ago, and entreated, almost forced him, to take 
it at first at a very low rate of interest. For a few weeks 
he had let it lie idle ; then he had appropriated it, and step 
by step his creditor had increased his demands up to a bill 
of exchange, and a usurious rate of interest. And now the 
vagabond grew insolent. Was he like the rat who foresees 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



323 



the sinking of the ship, and tries to escape from it ? — The 
Baron laughed so as to make Lenore shudder ; why, he was 
not the man to fall resistless into the hands of his adver- 
sary ; the next day would bring help. Ehrenthal could never 
leave him in the lurch. 

It was night wheu they reached home, and the Baron 
hurried to his own room, and went to bed, knowing well, 
however, that sleep would not visit him that night. He 
heard every hour strike, and every hour his pulse beat 
more stormily, and his anguish increased. He saw no hope 
of deliverance but in Ehrenthal ; yet his horror of appear- 
ing before that man as a suppliant, forced drops of sweat 
from his brow. It was morning before he lost the con- 
sciousness of his misery. 

Shrill sounds awoke him. The factory labourers, with 
the village band, had prepared him a serenade. 

At another time he would have been pleased with this 
mark of good feeling ; now, he only heard the discord it 
produced, and it annoyed him. 

He hastily dressed himself, and hurried into the court. 
The house was hung with garlands, the labourers were all 
ranged in order before the door, and received him with 
loud acclamations. He had to tell them in return how 
much he rejoiced to see this day, and that he expected 
great results, and while he spoke, he felt his words a lie, 
and his spirit broken. He drove off without seeing wife or 
daughter, and knocked at the door of Ehrenthal's oflfice, 
before it was open. The usurer was summoned down from 
his breakfast. 

Anxious to know the reason of so unusual an occurrence 
as this early visit, Ehrenthal did not give himself time to 



324 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



change his ciressing-gowu. The Baron stated the case as 
coolly as he could. 

Ehrenthal fell into the greatest passion. " This Pinkus," 
he went on repeating ; " he has presumed to lend you 
money on a bill of exchange. How could he have so large 
a sum ? The man has not got ten thousand dollars ; he 
is an insignificant man, without capital." 

The Baron confessed that the sum was not so large 
originally, but this only increased Ehrenthal' s excitement. 

" From seven to ten ! " he cried, nmning wildly up and 
down till his dressing-gown flapped round him Kke the 
wangs of an owl. " So he has made nearly three thousand 
dollars ! I have always had a bad opinion of that man, 
now I know w^hat he is ! He is a rascal, a double dealer ! 
He never advanced the seven thousand either, his whole 
shop is not worth so much." 

This strong moral indignation on the part of Ehrenthal 
threw a ray of joy into the Baron's soul. " I, too, have 
reason to consider Pinkus a dangerous man," said he. 

But this agreement in oiDinion proved unlucky, diverting, 
as it did, Ehrenthal's anger against the Baron instead. 
"Why do I speak of Pinkus?" he screamed; "he has 
acted as a man of his stamp will act. But you, you who 
are a nobleman, how could you deal so with me 1 You have 
carried on money transactions with another man behind my 
back, and you have, in a short time, let him win three 
thousand dollars on a bill of exchange — a bill of exchange," 
continued he ; " do you know what that means ?" 

"I wish that the debt had not been necessary," said 
the Baron ; " but as it falls due to-day, and the man will 
not wait, the question is, How we are to pay him ? " 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



325 



" What do you mean by we ? " cried Ehrenthal hastily. 
"You must contrive to pay ; you must see where you can get 
money for the man you have helped to pocket three thousand 
dollars ; you did not consult me when you gave the bill ; 
you need not consult me as to how you are to pay it." 

In the Baron's soul a contest between wrath and wretch- 
edness was going on. " Moderate your language, Mr. 
Ehrenthal," cried he. 

" Wliy should I be moderate ?" screamed he. "You 
have not been moderate, nor Pinkus either, and neither 
will I." 

"I will call again," said the Baron, "when you have 
regained that degree of decorum, which, under all circum- 
stances, I must beg you to observe towards me." 

" If you want money from me, don't call again, Baron," 
cried Ehrenthal. " I have no money for you, I would 
rather throw my dollars in the street than pay you 
one other." 

The Baron silently retired. His wretchedness was great ; 
he had to bear the insults of the plebeian. Next, he went 
round to all his acquaintance, and endured the torment of 
asking on all sides for money, and on all sides having it 
refused. He returned to his lodgings, and was considering 
whether it were best to try Ehrenthal again, or to attempt 
to postpone the payment of the bill by offering usurious 
interest, when, to his surprise, a strange figure, that he had 
only seen once or twice before, entered his apartments, with 
a haggard face, surrounded by red hair, two sly eyes, and 
a grotesque expression about the mouth, such as one sees 
on laughing-masks at carnival-time. 

Veitel bowed low, and began : " Most gracious Baron. 



326 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



have the condescension to forgive my coming to you on 
matters of business. I have a commission from Mr. 
Pinkus, empowering me to receive the money for the bill 
of exchange. I would most humbly inquire whether you 
will be so gracious as to pay it me ?" 

The sad seriousness of the hour was for a moment lost 
upon the Baron, when he saw the lank figure twisting 
and turning before him, making faces and attempting to 
be polite. " "VVho are you?" inquired he, with all the 
dignity of his race. 

" Veitel Itzig is my name, gracious sir, if you will per- 
mit me to announce it to you." 

The Baron started on hearing the name of Itzig. That 
was the man of whom he had been warned — the invisible, 
the merciless. 

" I was till now book-keeper at Ehrenthal's," modestly 
continued Itzig ; " but Ehrenthal was too haughty for me. 
I have come into a small sum of money, and I have 
invested it in Mr. Pinkus's business. I am on the point of 
establishing myself ' ' 

" You cannot have the money at present," said the 
Baron, more composedly. This helpless creature could 
hardly be a dangerous enemy. 

"It is an honour to me," said Veitel, "to be told by 
the gracious Baron, that he will pay me later in the after- 
noon : I have plenty of time." He drew out a silver 
watch. " I can wait tiU evening ; and that I may not in- 
convenience the Baron by coming at an hour that might 
not suit him, or when he chanced to be out, I will take the 
liberty to place myself on his steps. I will stand there," 
said he, as if deprecating the Baron's refusal to let him sit. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



327 



" I will wait till five o'clock. The Baron need not incon- 
venience himself on my account." And Yeitel bowed him- 
self out, and retired from the room backwards like a crab. 
The Baron recalled him, and he stood still in that bent 
and ridiculous attitude. At that moment he looked the 
weakest and oddest of men. The warning letter must 
have confounded the poor book-keeper with his master. 
At all events, it was easier to deal with this man than 
with any other. 

" Can you tell me of any way in which I may satisfy 
your claim without paying down the sum this day ? " 

Veitel's eyes flashed like those of a bird of prey, but he 
shook his head and shrugged his shoulders long in pre- 
tended reflection, " Gracious Baron," said he at length, 
" there is perhaps one way — one only way. You have a 
mortgage of twenty thousand on your property, which 
mortgage belongs to yourself, and is kept in Ehrenthal's 
ofiice. I will persuade Pinkus to leave you the ten 
thousand, and will add another ten if you make over that 
mortgage to my friend." 

The Baron listened. " Perhaps you do not know," re- 
joined he with much severity, " that I have already made 
over that deed of mortgage to Ehrenthal." 

" Forgive me, gracious sir, you have not ; there has been 
no legal surrender of it made." 

" But my written promise has been given," said the Baron. 

Veitel shrugged again. " If you promised Ehrenthal a 
mortgage, why should it be this very one of all others 1 
But what need of a mortgage to Ehrenthal at all ? This 
year you will receive your capital from the Polish estate, 
and then you can pay him ofi" in hard cash. Till then, 



328 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



just leave the mortgage quietly in his hands ; no one need 
know that you have surrendered it to us. If you \\ill have 
the kindness to come with me to a lawyer, and to assign 
the deed to my friend, I will give you two thousand dollars 
for it at once, and on the day that you place the deed in 
our hands, I will pay down the rest of the money." 

The Baron had forced himself to listen to this proposal 
with a smile. At last he replied briefly : " Devise some 
other plan ; I cannot consent to this." 

" There is no other," said Itzig ; " but it is only mid- 
day, and I can wait till five." 

He again began a series of low bows, and moved to the 
door. 

" Reflect, gracious sir," said he earnestly, " that you do 
not merely want the ten thousand dollars. You will, in 
the course of the next few months, require as much more 
for your factory and the getting your money out of the Polish 
investment. If you surrender the mortgage to us, you will 
have the whole sum you need ; but pray do not mention the 
matter to Ehrenthal — he is a hard man, and would injure 
me throughout life." 

" Have no fear," said the Baron, with a gesture of dis- 
missal. 

Veitel withdrew. 

The Baron paced up and down. The proposal just made 
revolted him. True, it would rescue hun from this and 
other impending difficulties, but, of course, it was out of 
the question. The man who proposed it was so absurd a 
being, that it was of no use even to be angry with him. 
But the Baron's word was pledged, and the matter could 
not be thought of further. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



329 



And yet how trifling the risk ! The documents would 
remain at Ehrenthal's till the Polish Count had paid him, 
then he would clear his own debts to Ehrenthal, and release 
his documents. No one need ever know of it; and if the 
worst should befall, he had but to give Ehrenthal another 
mortgage on his property, and the money-broker would be 
equally satisfied. The Baron kept banishing the thought, 
and yet it ceaselessly returned. It struck one, it struck 
two : he rang for his servant, and ordered the carriage 
round, carelessly asking if the stranger were still there. 
The coachman drove up ; the stranger was on the steps : 
the Baron went down without looking at him, got into the 
carriage, and when he was asked by the footman, hat off, 
whither the coachman was to drive, it first occurred to him 
that he did not know. At length he said, "To Ehrenthal's." 

Meanwhile, Ehrenthal had been spending a troubled 
morning. He began to suspect that some other, too, was 
speculating against the Baron. He sent for Pinkus, over- 
whelmed him with reproaches, and tried in every sort of 
way to discover whence he had got his capital ; but Pinkus 
had been well schooled, he was bold, rude, and silent. 
Then Ehrenthal sent for Itzig. Itzig was nowhere to be 
found. 

Consequently, Ehrenthal was in a very bad temper when 
the Baron returned, and he told him drily that the day had 
come when his payments must cease. A painful scene 
ensued ; the Baron left the office in bitter mood, and de- 
termined to pay a last visit to an early comrade, who was 
known to be a rich man. 

It was past four when he returned hopeless to his 
lodgings. A thin figure was leaning against the steps, 



330 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



and bowed low to the Baron as he hurried past. His 
strength was exhausted ; he sat on the sofa, as he had done 
the day before, and blindly stared before him. He knew 
there was no rescue but that which waited on the steps 
below. Prostrate, powerless, he heard the clock strike the 
quarter to five ; his pulses beat like hammers, and each 
throb brought the moment nearer that was to decide his 
fate. The last stroke of the hour was over. The ante- 
room bell rang ; the Baron rose. Itzig opened the door, 
holding two papers in his hand. 

" I cannot pay," the Baron cried in a hoarse voice. 

Itzig bowed again and offered him the other paper : 
" Here is the sketch of a contract." 

The Baron took up his hat, and said without looking at 
him — " Come to an attorney." 

It was evening when the Baron returned to the castle of 
his forefathers. The pale moonlight shone on the turrets, 
the lake was black as ink ; and colourless as they, was the 
face of the man who leant back in the carriage, with close 
compressed lips, like one who, after a long struggle, had come 
to an irrevocable decision. He looked apathetically on the 
water, and on the cool moonshine on the roof, and yet he 
was glad that the sun did not shine, and that he did not 
see his father's house in its golden light. He tried to 
think of the future he had insured, he pondered over all 
the advantages to accrue from his factory, he looked forward 
to the time when his son would dwell here, rich, secure, 
free from the cares that had involved his father with vulgar 
traders, and prematurely blanched his hair. He thought 
of all this, but his favourite thoughts had become indifferent 
to him. He entered the house, felt for his full pocket- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



331 



book before he gave his hand to his wife, and nodded sig- 
nificantly to Lenore. He spoke cheerfully to the ladies, 
and even contrived to joke about his busy day ; but he 
felt that something had come between him and his dearest 
ones — even they seemed estranged. If they leant over him, 
or took his hand, his impulse was to withdraw from the 
caress. And when his wife looked lovingly at him, there 
was a something in her eyes, where once he was wont to 
turn for comfort in every extremity, that he could no 
longer bear to meet. 

He went to his factory, where he was again received 
with huzza after huzza by the workmen, and v\^ith merry 
tunes by the village band. They played the very air to 
which he had often marched with his regiment by the 
side of his old General, whom he loved as a father. He 
thought of the scarred face of the old warrior, and thought 
too of a court of honour that he and his brother ofiicers had 
once held upon an unhappy youth, who had lightly given 
and broken his word of honour. He went into his bed- 
room, and rejoiced that it had become dark, and that he 
could no longer see his castle, his factory, or his wife's 
searching glance. And again he heard hour after hour 
strike, and at the stroke of each the thought was forced in 
upon him — " There is now another of that regiment who 
has, when grey-haired, done the very deed that led a youth 
to blow out his brains : here lies the man, and cannot sleep 
because he has broken his word of honour." 



332 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

rPHE spring-storms were sweeping over the plains when 
Anton was recalled. The winter had been a laborious 
and anxious season. He had often travelled in frost and 
snow through devastated districts, far into the east and 
south. Everywhere he had seen mournful sights, burnt 
castles, disturbed trade, insecurity, famine, brutality, and 
burning party-hate. 

" When will he come ? " asked Sabine. 

" In a few hours, by the next train," replied her 
brother. 

Sabine sprang up, and seized her bunch of keys. " And 
the maids are not yet ready ; I must look after things my- 
self Let him spend the evening with us, Traugott ; we 
women must see something of him." 

Her brother laughed. " Take care that you do not spoil 
him." 

" No fear of that," said the cousin ; " when he once gets 
back into the office, there he will remain, and we shall never 
see him except at dinner." 

Meanwhile, Sabine was searching amongst the treasures, 
loading the servants with packets of every kind, and impa- 
tiently watching till the clerks left their apartments for the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



333 



counting-house. At last she herself crept into Anton's 
room. She gave one more searching glance at the sofa- 
cushion she had worked, and arranged in an alabaster vase 
all the flowers that the gardener had succeeded in forcing. 
While so engaged, her eye fell upon the drawing that 
Anton had done on his first arrival, and on the rich carpet 
which Fink had had laid down. Where was Fink now 1 
She felt on this day as if she had been parted from him 
many many years, and the recollection of him resembled 
the sad perplexed feeling that succeeds an unhappy dream. 
But she could openly tell the noble-hearted man, to whom 
this room now belonged, how much she had learned to value 
him ; and she rejoiced that the hour was at hand when she 
could thank him for all that he had done for her brother. 

" But Sabine !" cried the cousin in amazement — for she 
too had found her way into the room. 

" What is the matter ? " said Sabine, looking up. 

"Wliy, these are the embroidered curtains which you 
have had put up. They do not belong to this part of the 
house." 

" Let them be," returned Sabine with a smile. 

"And the coverlet, and these towels — why, they are 
your best set. Good heavens ! The coverlet with lace, 
and the rose-coloured lining !" 

" Never mind, cousin," said Sabine, blushing. " He 
whom we expect deserves the best that our old chests 
contain." 

But the cousin went on shaking her head. " If I had 
not seen this, I should never have believed it. To give 
these for daily use ! I cannot make you out, Sabine. My 
only comfort is, that he will never remark it. That I 



334 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



should live to see this day ! " And clasping her hands, she 
left the room in much excitement. 

Sabine hurried after her. " She will go and tease 
Traugott about it," said she ; " I must persuade her that 
things could not have been otherwise arranged." 

Meanwhile, the traveller felt like a son returning to his 
home after a long absence. At the nearest station to the 
capital, his heart began to beat with delight, the old house, 
his colleagues, the business, his desk, his principal, and 
Sabine, all floated pleasantly before his mind's eye. At 
last the drosky stopped before the open door, and Father 
Stunn, calling out his name, with a voice that sounded all 
over the street, ran and lifted him out of the carriage like 
a child. Then up came Mr. Fix, and shook his hand 
long, not remarking that his black brush, during the 
up-and-down movement, was making all sorts of hiero- 
glyphics on his young friend's coat. Next Anton went 
into the counting-house, where the lights were already 
burning, and heartily cried out, "Good evening!" His 
colleagues rose like one man, and with loud expressions of 
pleasure, crowded about him. Mr. Schroter hurried out 
of his own room, and his grave face beamed with satisfac- 
tion. These were happy moments, indeed, and Anton was 
more moved than became such a travelled man. And 
on his way from the counting-house to his room, old 
Pluto sprang out impetuously, inmioderately wagging his 
matted tail, so that Anton could hardly escape from his 
caresses. Arrived at his own door, a servant met him 
with a smile, and respectfully opened it. Anton gazed in 
wonder at the way in which it was decorated. 

" Our young lady herself arranged it as you see," im- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



335 



parted the servant. Anton bent over the alabaster vase, 
and closely examined every flower as though he had never 
seen such before. Then he took up the cushion, felt it, 
stroked it, and full of admiration, put it back in its place. 
He now returned to the ofiice, to give Mr. Schroter the 
latest intelligence as to his proceedings. The merchant 
took him into his own little room, and they talked long and 
confidentially. ^' 

It was a serious conversation. Much was lost, much 
still endangered, and it would require years of industry to 
make good what was forfeited, and replace old connexions 
by new. "To your judgment and energy," said Mr. 
Schroter, " I already owe much. I hope you will continue 
to assist me in regaining lost ground. And now there is 
still some one else who wants to thank you. I hope you 
will be my guest this evening." 

Anton next went to his long-closed desk, and took out 
pens and paper. But much could not be made of writing 
to-day. One of his colleagues after the other, left his 
own place, and came to Anton's stool. Mr. Baumann 
often walked across, just to clap him on the back, and 
then cheerfully returned to his own corner ; Mr. Specht 
kept knocking away at the railings which divided him from 
Anton, and showered down questions upon him. Mr. 
Liebold left the blotting-paper several moments on the last 
page of the great ledger, and came over for a chat. Even 
Mr. Purzel moved, with the sacred chalk in his hand, out 
of his partition ; and, finally, Mr. Pix came into the room 
to confide to Anton that, for some months back, he had 
played no solo partie, and that Specht, meanwhile, had 
fallen into a state closely resembling insanity. 



336 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Later in the evening, Anton entered the principal's 
apartments. Sabine stood before him. Her mouth smiled, 
but her eyes were moist, as she bent down over the hand 
that had saved her brother's life. 

" Lady ! " cried Anton, shocked, and drew his hand 
away. 

" I thank you, oh, I thank you, Wohlfart ! " cried Sabine, 
holding his hands in both hers. And so she stood silent, 
transfigured by an emotion she knew not how to repress. 
While Anton contemplated the fair girl, who, with blushing 
cheeks, looked so gratefully at him, he realized the change 
that Polish sword-cut had made in his position. The par- 
tition-wall had fallen which, till now, had divided the clerk 
from the principal's family. And he also felt his heart 
swelling with honest pride the while, that he was not all 
unworthy of a woman's trust. 

He now told her, in reply to her questions, the particu- 
lars of their struggle for the wagons, and the other incidents 
of that adventurous time. Sabine hung upon his words, 
and when her eyes met the full clear light of his, they 
involuntarily drooped beneath it. She had never before 
remarked how singularly handsome he was. Now it burst 
upon her ! A manly open face, curling chestnut hair, 
beautiful dark-blue eyes, a mouth that told of energy and 
decision, and a colour that went and came with every 
change of feeling. He seemed to be, at the same time, a 
stranger, and yet a dear and trusted friend. 

The cousin entered next, the embroidered curtains hav- 
ing caused an excitement in her mind, which now dis- 
played itself in a silk gown and new cap. Her greetings 
were loud and fluent, and when she remarked that Mr. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



337 



Wohlfart's whiskers were very becoming to him, Sabine 
looked assent. 

" There you have the hero of the counting-house," cried 
the merchant, joining them. " Now show that you know 
how to reward knightly valour better than with fair words. 
Let him have the best that cellar and kitchen afford. 
Come along, my faithful fellow-traveller. The Rhine wine 
expects that, after all your heavy Polish potations, you will 
do it honour." 

The lamp-lighted room looked the picture of comfort, as 
the four sat down to dinner. The merchant raised his 
glass. " AVelcome to your country ! "Welcome home ! " 
cried Sabine. Anton replied, in a low tone, " I have a 
country, I have a home in which I am happy; I owe both 
to your kindness. Many an evening, when sitting in some 
wretched inn, far away amongst savage strangers, whose 
language I imperfectly understood, I have thought of this 
table, and of the delight it would be to me to see this room 
and your face once more. For it is the bitterest thing on 
earth to be alone in hours of relaxation and repose without 
a friend, without anything that one loves." 

As he bade them good-night, the principal said, " Wohl- 
fart, I wish to bind you still more closely to this firm. 
Jordan is leaving us next quarter to become a partner in 
his uncle's business, I cannot appoint a better man than you 
to fill his place." 

When Anton returned to his room he felt what mortal 
man is seldom allowed to feel here below, unpunished by 
a reverse — that he was perfectly happy, without a regret 
and without a wish. He sat on the sofa, looked at the 
flowers and at the cushion, and again saw in fancy Sabine 

Y 



338 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



bending over his hand. He had sat there long enjoying 
this vision, when his eye fell upon a letter on the table, 
the post-mark " New York," the direction in Fink's 
hand. 

Fink, when he first left, had written more than 
once to Anton, but only a few lines at a time, telling 
nothing of his occupation, nor his plans for the future. 
Then a long interval passed away, during which Anton had 
had no tidings from his friend, and only knew that he spent 
a good deal of his time in travelling in the Western States 
of the Union, as manager of the business of which his 
uncle had been the head, and in the interest of several 
other companies in which the deceased had had shares. 
But it was with horror that he now read the following 
letter : — 

" It must out at last, though I would gladly have kept it 
from you, poor boy ! I have joined thieves and murderers. 
If you want anything of the kind done, apply to me. 
I envy a fellow who becomes a villain by choice ; he has at 
least the pleasure of driving a good bargain with Satan, and 
can select the particular sort of good-for-nothingness which 
suits his tastes ; but my lot is less satisfactory. I have been, 
through the pressure of rascalities invented by others, 
driven into a way of life which is as much like highway 
robbery as one hair is to another. 

" Like a rock in an avalanche, I, pressed on all sides, have 
got frozen into the midst of the most frightful speculations 
ever devised by a usurer's brain. My departed uncle was 
good enough to make me heir to his favourite branch of 
business — land speculations. 

" I put off involving myself with its details as long as I 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



339 



could, and left the charge of that part of my inheritance to 
Westlock. As this was cowardly, I found an excuse for it 
in the quantity of work the money matters of the deceased 
afforded me. At last there was no help for it, I had to 
undertake the responsibility. And if before I had had a 
pretty good guess at the elasticity of whatever it was that 
served my uncle instead of a conscience, it now became 
beyond a doubt, that the purpose of his will and testament 
was to punish my juvenile offences against him, by mak- 
ing me a companion of old weather-beaten villains, whose 
cunning was such that Satan himself would have had to 
put his tail into his pocket, and become chimney-sweep in 
order to escape them. 

" This letter is written from a new town in Tennessee, a 
cheerful place. No better though, for being built on specu- 
lation with my money. A few wooden cottages, half of 
them taverns, filled to the roof with a dirty and outcast 
emigrant rabble, half of whom are lying ill with putrid 
fever ! 

" Those who are still moving about, are a hollow-eyed, 
anxious-looking set, all candidates for death. Daily, when 
the poor wretches look at the rising sun, or are unreasonable 
enough to feel a want of something to eat and drink ; 
daily, from morn to eve their favourite occupation is to 
curse the landshark who took their money from them 
for transport, land, and improvements, and brought them 
into this district, which is under water two months in the 
year, and for the ten others more like a tough kind of pap 
than anything else. Now the men who have pointed out 
to them this dirty way into heaven, are no other than my 
agents and colleagues, so that I, Fritz Fink, am the lucky 



340 



DEBIT AND CT.EDIT. 



man upon whom every imprecation there is in German and 
Irish falls all the clay long. I send off all who are able to 
walk about, and have to feed the inhabitants of my 
hospital with Indian com and Peruvian bark. As I write 
this, three naked little Paddies are creeping about my floor, 
their mother having so far forgotten her duty as to leave 
them behind her, and I enjoy the privilege of washing 
and combing the frog-like little abominations ! A pleasant 
occupation for my father's son ! I don't know how long 
I shall have to stick here, probably till the very last of 
the set is dead. 

" Meanwhile, I have fallen out with my partners in New 
York. I have had the privilege of rousing universal dis- 
satisfaction ; the Shareholders of the Great Western Landed 
Company Association have met, made speeches, and passed 
resolutions against me. I should not much care for that, 
if I saw a way of getting clear of the whole affair. But 
the deceased has managed so cleverly, that I am tied down 
like a nigger in a slave-ship. Immense sums have been 
embarked in this atrocious speculation. If I make known 
its nature, I am sure that they will find a way of making 
me pay the whole sum at which my late uncle put down 
his name ; and how to do that without ruining not myself 
alone, but probably also the firm of Fink and Becker, I 
can't yet see. 

" Lleantime, I don't want to hear your opinion as to what 
I ought to do. It can be of no use to me, for I know it al- 
ready. Indeed, I wish for no letter at all from you, you simple 
old-fashioned Tony, who believe that to act uprightly is 
as easy a thing as to eat a slice of bread and butter. For 
as soon as I have done all I can, buried some, fed others. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



341 



and offended my colleagues as much as possible, I shall 
go for a few months to the far west, to some noble prairie; 
where one may find alligators, and horned owls, and some- 
thing more aristocratic than there is here. If the prairie 
afford pen and ink, I shall write to you again. If this letter 
be the last you ever get from me, devote a tear to my 
memory, and say, in your benevolent way, ' I am sorry for 
him — he was not without his good points.' " 

Then came a precise description of Fink's affairs, and of 
the statutes of the association. 

Hav^ing read this unsatisfactory letter, Anton sat down 
at once and spent the night in writing to his friend. 

Even in the common light of the next day, our hero re- 
tained his feelings of the night before. "WTiether he worked 
at his desk or jested with his friends, he felt conscious how 
deeply his life was rooted in the walls of the old house. 
The rest saw it too. Besides other marks of favour, Anton 
often spent the evenings with the principal and the ladies. 
These were happy hours to Sabine. She rejoiced to find, 
as they discussed the events of the day, a book read, or 
some matter of feeling and experience, how much agreement 
there was between her views and Anton's. His culture, 
his judgment surprised her ; she suddenly saw him invested 
with glowing colours, just as the traveller gazes in amaze- 
ment at some fair landscape, which heavy clouds have long 
hidden from his view. 

His colleagues, too, took his peculiar position very 
pleasantly. They had heard from the principal's own lips 
that Anton had saved his life, and that enabled even IMr. 
Pix to look upon the frequent invitations he received with- 
out note or comment. Anton, too, did his part towards 



342 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



keeping up the good feeling of the counting-house. He 
often asked them all to his room, and Jordan complained, 
with a smile, that his parties were now quite forgotten. 
His favourite companion was Baumann, who had had an 
increase of missionary zeal during the last half-year, and 
only been kept back by finding that an experienced calculator 
could ill be spared at the present crisis. Specht, too, was 
a special candidate for his favour, Anton's travels and 
adventures having invested him with a romantic halo in 
the former's fantastic mind. 

Unfortunately, Specht's own position in the good-will of 
his colleagues had been materially shaken during Anton's 
absence. He had long been the butt of all their witticisms, 
but now Anton was sorry to see that he was universally 
disliked. Even the quartett had given him up, at least 
there was decided enmity between him and both basses. 
Whenever Specht ventured upon an assertion that was not 
quite incontrovertible, Pix would shrug his shoulders and 
ejaculate "Pumpkins!" Indeed, almost all that Specht 
said was met by a whisper of " pumpkins," from one or 
other ] and whenever he caught the word, he fell into a 
towering passion, broke off the discourse, and withdrew. 

One evening Anton visited the tabooed clerk in liis own 
room. Before he reached the door, he heard Specht's shrill 
voice singing the celebrated song, " Here I sit on the green 
grass, with violets around;" and looking in, he saw the 
minstrel, in poetical attitude, so enjoying his own melody, 
that he stood without for a few moments not to disturb the 
inspiration. Specht's room was by no means large, and his 
invention had been exercised for years in giving it a special 
and distinguished character. Indeed, he had succeeded 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



343 



by means of pictures, plaster-of-Paris casts, small ornaments 
of different kinds, useless pieces of furniture, and a great 
coat -of- arms over the bed, in making it unlike any other 
apartment ever seen. But the most remarkable thing about 
it was in the very centre of the room. There hung an im- 
mense ring suspended to a beam in the ceiling. On each side 
were large flower -pots filled with earth, and from these 
countless threads were fastened to the ring. Under the 
ring was a garden-table made of twisted boughs, and a few 
chairs of the same nature. 

Anton stood still in amazement, and at last called out, 
" What the deuce have you such a network as this in your 
room for?" 

Specht sprang up, and said, "It is an arbour." 
" An arbour ! I see nothing green about it." 
"That will come," said Specht, pointing out his great 
flower-pots. 

On a closer inspection, Anton detected a few weak shoots 
of ivy, which looked dusty and faded, like the twilighted 
dream -visions which the waking man allows to cling 
round his spirit for a few moments before he sweeps them 
away for ever. 

" But, Specht, this ivy will never grow," said Anton. 

" There are other things," importantly announced Specht, 
showing Anton a few wan-looking growths that just peered 
above the top of the pots, and resembled nothing so much 
as the unfortunate attempts to germinate which the potato 
will make in a cellar when spring-time comes. 

"And what are these shoots?" 

" Kidney-beans and pumpkins. The whole will form an 
arbour. In a few weeks the tendrils will run up the 



344 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



threads. Only think, Wohlfart, how well it will look — the 
green tendrils, the flowers, and the great leaves! I shall 
cut off most of the pumpkins, but a few of them shall remain. 
Just picture to yourself the fresh green and the yellow 
blossoms ! What a place it will be to sit with friends over 
a glass of wine or to sing a quartett in !" 

"But, Specht," inquired Anton, laughing, "can you 
really suppose that the plants will grow in your attic ? " 

"Why not?" cried Specht, much offended. "They will 
do as well here as elsewhere. They have sun; I take care 
that they have air too, and I water them with bullock's 
blood. They have all they want." 

" But they look desperately sick." 

" Just at first they will, of course ; the air is still cold, and 
we have had little sun as yet. They will soon shoot up. 
When we have no garden, we must do the best we can." He 
looked complacently around his room. " As to the decora- 
tions of a room, you see I can cope with any one. Of 
course in proportion to my means. However, I have spent 
a good deal upon it ; and so, though not large, it is 
thoroughly comfortable." 

"Yes," rejoined Anton, "except for a certain class of 
restless men who like freedom to move about. You can 
have no visitore here, but those who are content to sit 
down the moment they enter." 

" To sit quiet is one of the first rules of good society," 
rejoined Specht. " Unfortunately, men are often heartless 
and worthless. Do you not find, Wohlfart, that in our 
counting-house there are many very unfeeling?" 

" Often a little blunt," replied Anton, " but kind-hearted 
at bottom." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



345 



"That is not my experience," sighed Specht. "I am 
now quite alone, and must seek my comfort out of doors. 
When I can, I go to the theatre or to the circus, or to see 
a dwarf or a giant, if they happen to come round, and of 
course I go to the concerts." 

" But even there you are solitary." 

"Yes; and then it is expensive, and I am not, as you 
know, very well oflf, nor shall I, I fear, ever be much better. 
I ought to have been rich," said he importantly, "but a 
cousin and tnistee of mine brought me to this ; else I should 
have driven my carnage -and -four. I daresay I should not 
have been at all happier. If only Pix were not so rude. 
It is dreadful, Anton, to be daily liable to this. When you 
were away, I challenged him," said he, pointing to an old 
rapier on the wall ; " but he behaved very ill. I told him 
I was sorry to be obliged to do it, and offered him a choice 
of arms and place. He rudely wrote back that he would 
fight on the ground -floor where he was always stationed, 
and that as to arms, I might use any I liked, but that his 
weapon would be his great bmsh, with which he was ready 
to sign his name on both my cheeks. You will allow that 
I could not consent to that." Anton allowed it. 

"And now he sets all the others against me. My 
position is unbearable. I cannot be with them without 
getting insulted. But I know how to revenge myself. 
When the pumpkins blow, I will invite all the rest and 
leave out Pix. I will serve him as he once did you, Wohl- 
fart, and revenge the \^Tongs of each." 

" Veiy good," said Anton. " But suppose, that as I owe 
some civility to our colleagues, we unite in giving a party 
in your room ?" 



346 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" That is indeed kind of you, AVohlfart," cried Specht 
joyously. 

" And we will not wait till the pumpkins have grown up ; 
we will bring in a little green in the meanwhile." 
"Veiygood; fir-trees perhaps." 

" Leave it to me," continued Anton ; " and after all, we 
won't exclude Pix, but invite him with the rest. That is 
a much better revenge, and worthy of your good heart." 

"You think so?" inquired Specht doubtfully. 

''I am sure of it. I propose next Sunday evening; and 
will send out the invitations in our joint names." 

" In writing," cried Specht in ecstasy, " on pink paper." 

" The very thing." 

The clerks were not a little amazed the following morn- 
ing at receiving smart -looking notes laid by Mr. Specht 
himself, early in the morning, upon the desk of each ; in- 
viting them to see the pumpkins flower in his apart- 
ment. However, as Anton's name was also at the bottom 
of the page, there was nothing for it but to accept. Mean- 
while, Anton took Sabine into his confidence, and begged 
from her ivy and flowers. Specht himself worked hard the 
remainder of the week, and on the day of the festival, with 
the help of the servant, he contrived to entwine the threads 
with green leaves, to procure a number of coloured lamps, 
and to intermix with the leaves some triangular inventions 
of yellow paper, which were marvellously like the flowers 
of the pumpkin. 

Thus the room really did present the aspect Mr. Specht 
had long seen in his day-dreams. The colleagues were 
exceedingly amazed. Mr. Pix was the last to enter, and 
could not suppress an exclamation of surprise when he saw 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



347 



the unlucky arbour positively overgrown and covered with 
yellow flowers, shining in the coloure.d lamp -light. The 
great flower-pots were filled with gay nosegays, a red lamp 
hung down from the centre, and on the rustic table was 
placed a large pumpkin. Anton would make the quartett 
sit in the arbour, and grouped the others around the room, 
the bed having been arranged with bolsters and cushions 
so as to look like a second sofa. 

When they were all settled, Specht approached the great 
pumpkin, and solemnly exclaimed, " You have long plagued 
me about pumpkins, — here is my revenge." He took hold 
of the short stalk, and lifted away the upper half. It was 
hollow. A bowl of punch stood within. The clerks laughed, 
and cried, " Bravo ! " while Specht filled the glasses. 

Nevertheless, at first, there was a certain degree of es- 
trangement visible between the host and his guests. True, 
the obnoxious word was never mentioned, but his pro- 
positions seldom found favour. When Anton went round 
dispensing a bundle of Turkish 23ipes, which he had bought 
while abroad for his colleagues, Specht proposed that they 
should all sit cross-legged on the sofas and the floors, in 
true Turkish fashion. This proposal fell through. Also, 
when he next asserted, that as our commerce with the 
East increased, the Circassian maidens sold by their parents 
to Turkish families, would soon come over and play the 
part of waitresses in Bavarian beer-shops, he evidently failed 
to carry conviction to any of the party. But the gentle 
influences of the pumpkin-bowl gradually told upon the 
severe intellects of the counting-house. 

First of all the musical members of the firm were recon- 
ciled. Anton proposed the health of the quartett. The 



348 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



quartett returned thanks in some embarrassment, having 
been dissolved for about a month. It came out, however, 
from certain dark hints given by the first bass, that Specht 
had been unreasonable in his demands upon them. He had 
wished to make use of the quartett to serenade the charm- 
ing Zillibi, the prima donna of the circus ; and when the 
basses declined, Specht had flown into a violent passion, 
and sworn he would never sing with them till they con- 
sented. 

" If he had been content to serenade her in the evening," 
said Balbus, " we might perhaps have given in for the sake 
of peace, but he maintained that it must be at four o'clock 

the morning, as it was then that the riding-master rose 
to feed his horses. That was too much. Meanwhile, the 
lady ran off with a Bajazzo." 

" That is not true," cried Specht ; " the Bajazzo carried 
her off by force." 

" At all events, it has been a fortunate incident for us," 
said Anton, "as it releases these gentlemen from the ob- 
servance of their vows. I see no reason, therefore, why 
they should any longer deprive us of the enjoyment their 
musical talents are so calculated to afford. From what I 
hear, my dear Specht, you were a little hasty ; so make such 
an apology to these gentlemen as becomes a man of honour, 
and then I shall propose the instant re-establishment of the 
quartett." 

Specht rose accordingly, and said, " Adopting the advice 
of my friend Wohlfart, I now beg to apologize to you all ; 
and am, moreover, ready to give you satisfaction in any way 
that you prefer." Whereupon he tossed off his glass, and 
vehemently shook hands with the basses. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



349 



After that the music-books were brought out, and the 
four voices sounded remarkably well out of the arbour. A 
reconciliation with Pix still remained to be effected. Specht 
looked at him all evening mistrustfully, as he sat on the 
sofa bed, stroking old Pluto, who had come with him to the 
party. Specht now poured out another glass for Pix, and 
laid it down beside him. Pix quaffed it in silence ; Specht 
refilled it, and began in a free-and-easy tone — " Now, Pix, 
what do you think of the pumpkins ?" 

"It is a crazy idea," said Pix. 

Specht turned away much hurt, but he soon returned to 
the charge. "You will grant, Pix, that men may hold differ- 
ent opinions on many subjects, and yet need not be enemies." 

" I grant that." 

" Why then are you my enemy 1 Why do you think 
meanly of me 1 It is hard to live on bad terms with one's 
colleagues. I will not conceal that I esteem you, and that 
your conduct pains me. You have refused me satisfaction, 
and yet you are angry with me." 

" Don't heat yourself," said Pix ; " 1 have refused you 
no satisfaction, and I am not angry with you." 

"Will you prove this to these gentlemen ?" cried Specht, 
much pleased ; "will you hob-nob with me ?" 

"Come now," said Pix good-humouredly, "I have no 
wish to quarrel ; I only say this pumpkin notion was a 
crazy one." 

" But it is my notion still," cried Specht, withdrawing his 
glass ; "I water them with bullock's blood, and in a few 
weeks they will be green." 

" No," said Pix ; " that is over for ever, as you will see 
yourself to-morrow morning. And now come here and 



350 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



hob-nob with me, and pumpkins shall never be spoken of 
between us any more." 

Specht hob-nobbed with all his heart, and became ex- 
ceedingly cheerful. The weight that had long oppressed 
him had fallen off. He sang, he shook all his colleagues 
by the hand, and dealt more largely than ever in bold asser- 
tions. 

As Anton went down stairs with the others, he remarked 
that Pluto was carrying something yellow in his mouth, 
and gnawing it eagerly. 

" It is Specht's pumpkin," said Pix ; " the dog has taken 
it for a piece of beef, and bitten it to pieces." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT, 



351 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



NTON stood by the sick-bed of his friend Bernhard, 



and looked with sincere sympathy at his wasted form. 
The young student's face was more furrowed than ever, his 
complexion was transparent as wax, his long hair hung in 
disorder around his damp brow, and his eyes shone with 
feverish excitement. 

" All the time you have been away," said he sadly, " I 
have been longing for you ; now that you are returned, I 
shaU be better." 

" I wiU often come if our conversation does not excite 
you too much," replied Anton. 

" No," said Bernhard ; " I wiU merely Hsten, and you 
shall tell me about your travels." 

Anton began his recital : "I have seen of late what we 
have both of us often wished to see — foreign scenes and 
a life of adventures. I have found pleasant companionship 
in other countries, but the result of my experience is that 
there is no greater happiness than that of living quietly 
amongst one's own people. I have met with much that 
would have delighted you, because it was poetical and soul- 
stirring, but disappointment was largely mingled with it 




aU; 



352 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" It is the same all over the earth," said Bernhard. 
" "When a mighty feeling shakes the heart, and seeks to 
impel onward, the world stains and tarnishes it, and fair 
things die, and lofty aims become ridiculous. So it is no 
better with others than with us !" 

" That is our old bone of contention," said Anton cheerily ; 
"are you not yet converted, you sceptic ?" 

Bernhard looked down embarrassed. "Perhaps I am, 
Wohlfart." 

"Oh ho !" cried Anton ; "and what has brought this 
change about 1 Was it some experience of your own ? It 
must have been, T am sure." 

"Whatever it was," said Bernhard with a smile that 
irradiated his face, " I believe that with us, too, beauty and 
loveliness are to be found ; that with us, too, life can give 
birth to great passions, holy joys, and bitter griefs ; and I 
believe," continued he mournfully, "that even with us 
many sink under the burden of a terrible destiny." 

Anton listened anxiously to these words, and remarked 
that the large eyes of the invalid shone with a sudden in- 
spiration. 

" No doubt," said he, " it is as you say, but the fairest 
and most ennobling thing that this life can boast, is the 
triumph of the mind over all external influences, I honour 
the man who lets neither his passions nor his destiny over- 
power him, but who, even if he have erred, can tear him- 
self away and regain his liberty." 

" But how, if it be too late, and if the force of circum- 
stances be stronger than he ? " 

" I am not willing to believe in such force of circumstan- 
ces," replied Anton. " I imagine that, however sore pressed 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



353 



a man may be, if he sets himself to work in earnest, he may 
hew his way out. True, he will bear the scars of such an 
encounter, but, like a soldier's, there will be honour in them. 
Or, even if he does not overcome, he can at least fight 
valiantly ; and if conquered at last, he deserves the sympathy 
of all. But he who yields himself up without resistance, 
the wind blows such away from the face of the earth." 

" No spell will change down into stone, sings the poet," 
said Bernhard, taking a feather from his pillow, and brush- 
ing it away. " I have a question to ask you, Wohlfart," 
said he, after a pause. " Fancy that I am a Christian, and 
you my father-confessor, from whom no secrets must be 
kept back." Then looking anxiously at the door of the 
next room, he whispered, " What do you think of my 
father's business 1 " 

Anton started in amazement, while Bernhard watched 
him in painful suspense. " I understand little about these 
matters," continued he ; " alas ! too little perhaps. I do 
not want to know whether he passes for poor or rich ; but 
I ask you, as my friend, what do strangers think of the 
way in which he makes his money 1 It is dreadful, and 
perhaps sinful, that I, his son, should put such a question 
as this, but an irresistible impulse urges me on. Be honest 
with me, Wohlfart." He rose in his bed, and putting his 
arm round Anton's neck, said in his ear, " Does my 
father rank with men of your class as an upright man 1" 

Anton was silent. He could not say what he really 
thought, and he could not tell a lie. Meanwhile, the 
invalid sank back upon his pillows, and a low groan 
quivered through the room. 

" My dear Bernhard," replied Anton at length, " before 
z 



3o4 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



I answer to a son such a question as this, I must know 
his motive for asking it." 

"I ask," said Bemhard solemnly, "because I am ex- 
ceedingly uneasy about the good of others, and your answers 
may spare much misery to many." 

" Then," said Anton, " I will answer you. I know of 
no particular dealing of your father's, which is dishonour- 
able in the mercantile sense of the word. I only know 
that he is numbered among that large class of business men 
who are not particular in inquiring whether their own 
profit is purchased at the price of another's loss. Mr. 
Ehrenthal passes for a clear keen-sighted man, to whom 
the good opinion of solid merchants ife more indifferent than 
to a hundred others. He would probably do much that 
men of higher principle would avoid ; but I do not doubt 
that he would also shrink from what certain other specu- 
lators around venture upon." 

Again there came a trembling sigh from the invalid, 
and a painful silence ensued. At last he lifted himself 
up again, and placing his lips so near Anton's ear, that his 
burning breath played on his friend's cheek, he said, " I 
know that you are acquainted with the Baron Rothsattel. 
The young lady herself told me so." 

" It is as she has said," replied Anton, with difficulty 
concealing his excitement. 

" Do you know anything of the connexion between my 
father and the Baron V 

" But little ; only what you have yourself occasionally 
told me, that your father had money on the Baron's estate. 
But when I was abroad, I heard that a great danger 
threatened the Baron, and I was even authorized to warn 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



355 



him against an intriguer." Bernliard watched Anton's lips 
in agony. Anton shook his head. "And yet," said he, 
"it was one who is no stranger in your house. It was 
your book-keeper, Itzig." 

" He is a villain," cried Bernhard eagerly, clenching his 
thin hand. " He is a man of low nature. From the first 
day that he entered our house, I felt a loathing of him as 
of an unclean beast." 

"It appears to me," continued Anton, "that Itzig, of 
whom I knew something in earlier years, is plotting against 
the Baron behind your father's back. The warning I re- 
ceived was so obscure, I hardly knew what to make of it ; 
however, I could but inform the Baron of what had been 
told me." 

" That Itzig rules my father," whispered Bernhard. " He 
is a demon in our family. If my father acts selfishly 
towards the Baron, that man is answerable for it." 

Anton soothingly assented. " I must know how matters 
stand between the Baron and my father," continued the 
invalid. " I must know what is to be done to help that 
family out of their difiiculties. I can help," he went on to 
say, and again a ray of joy lit up his pale face. " My 
father loves me. He loves me much. In my present weak 
state, I have found out how his heart clings to me. When 
he comes in the evening to my bed, and strokes my fore- 
head ; when he sits where you do, Wohlfart, and mourn- 
fully looks at me for hours together ! Wohlfart, after all, 
he is my father !" He clasped his hands, and hid his face 
in the pillows. " You must help me, my friend ; you must 
tell me how to save the Baron. I charge you to do this. 
I myself will speak to my father. I dreaded the hour 



356 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



before, but after what you have told me, I fear now, either 
that he does not know all, or," added he in a low murmur, 
" that he will not tell me all. You yourself must go to 
the Baron." 

" You must not forget, Bernhard," replied Anton, " that 
even with the best will in the world, it is not permitted us 
to force ourselves thus into the affairs of others. However 
good our intentions may be, still I am a stranger to the 
Baron. My interference may seem, both to him and to 
3'-our father, sheer presumption. I do not say that the step 
is a useless, but it is a most uncertain one. It would be 
better that you should first find out the nature of your 
father's proceedings." 

" Go, though, to the Baron," implored Bernhard ; " and 
if he remain silent, ask the young lady. I have seen her," 
continued he ; "I have kept it back from you as men will 
keep their dearest secret ; now you shall hear it. I have 
been more than once on the Rothsattel estate. I know 
how fair she is, how proud her bearing, how noble her 
every gesture. When she walks over the grass she seems 
the queen of nature, an azure glory shines around her head ; 
wherever she looks, all things bow down before her ; her 
teeth like pearls, her bosom a bed of lilies," whispered 
he, and sank down on his pillows with folded hands and 
flashing eyes. 

"He too!" cried Anton to himself "My poor Bern- 
hard, you are delirious !" 

Bernhard shook his head. " Since that day," said he, 
" I know that life is not commonplace, but it is terrible ! 
Will you now consent to speak to the Baron and his 
daughter ?" 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



357 



" I will," said Anton, rising to go. " But I repeat to 
you, that in doing this, I am taking an important step, 
which may easily lead to fresh involvements for us both.'* 

" One in my state fears no involvements," said Bemhard ; 
" and as for you," and he cast a searching glance at Anton, 
" you will be what you have spoken of to me this day, a 
man who can cut his way through difl&culties, and whose 
business it is, even though wounded, to fight with fate. 
Me, Anton Wohlfart, me the whirlwind will sweep away." 

" Faint-heart," cried Anton tenderly ; " it is your dis- 
ease that speaks thus. Courage will return with health." 

" You hope so ?" inquired the invalid doubtingly. I 
do so too, at times ; but often I grow faint-hearted as you 
say. Yes, I will live ; and I will live no longer as of yore. 
I will try hard to grow stronger. I will not dream so 
much as I do now, will not fret and excite myself in soli- 
tude. I will make trial of the life of a brave and wise 
man, who gives back every blow that he receives," cried 
he with flushed cheeks, and holding out his hand to his 
friend. Anton bent over him, and left the room. 

That evening Ehrenthal went to his son's bedside, as he 
always did, after having closed the office door, and hidden 
the key in his own room. 

"What did the doctor say to you to-day, my Bernhard?" 

Bemhard had turned his face to the wall, but he now 
suddenly flung himself round, and said impetuously, 
" Father, I have something to speak to you about. Lock 
the door, that no one may disturb us." 

Ehrenthal, in amazement, ran to both doors, locked and 
bolted them obediently, and then hurried back to his son's 
bedside. 



358 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



""WTiatis it that vexes you, my Bernhard?" inquired 
he, stretching out his hand to feel his son's brow. 

Bernhard drew back his head, and his father's hand sank 
on the bedclothes. 

Sit down there," said the invalid darkly, " and answer 
my questions as sincerely as if you were speaking to your- 
self." 

The old man sat down. "Ask, my son, and I will 
answer you." 

" You have told me that you have lent much money to 
Baron Rothsattel, that you will lend him no more, and that 
the nobleman will not be able to retain his estate." 

"It is as I have said," replied his father, as cautiously 
as if undergoing a legal examination. 

"And what is to become of the Baron and of his 
family?" 

Ehrenthal shrugged his shoulders. " He will forfeit his 
property ; and when the day comes that the estate has to 
be sold, I shall, on account of my money invested therein, 
bid for it, and I hope I shall be the purchaser. I have a 
large mortgage on it, which is safe, and a small mortgage 
besides, which is not worth much." 

" Father," cried Bernhard, with a piercing voice which 
made Ehrenthal start, " you wish to turn this man's mis- 
fortunes to your own profit ; you wish to seat yourself in his 
place ! Yes, you drove to the Baron's estate, and took me 
with you, and perhaps you were then planning how to turn 
his embarrassment to advantage. It is horrible, horrible!" 
He threw himself back on the pillows, and wrung his hands. 

Ehrenthal moved restlessly on his seat : " Speak not of 
matters that you do not understand. Business is for the 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



359 



day; when I come to you in the evenings, then you are 
not to trouble yourself about my occupations. I will not 
have you lift up your hands, and cry, ' Horrible !' " 

"Father!" exclaimed Bernhard, "if you would not see 
me die with shame and sorrow, you will give up your 
plan." 

" Give up ! " cried Ehrenthal indignantly. " How can I 
give up my gold? How can I give up the estate about 
which I have taken thought night and day? How can I 
give up the greatest stroke af business I have yet carried 
on? You are a disobedient child, and do grieve me for 
nothing. What fault of mine was it that I gave the Baron 
my money? He would have it so. What fault is it of 
mine that I buy the property ? I but redeem my money." 

" Cursed be every dollar that you have laid out thus ! 
Cursed be the day that this unblest purpose entered your 
mind!" continued Bernhard, and he raised his hand 
threateningly against his father. 

"What is this!" cried Ehrenthal, springing up; "what 
evil thoughts have taken hold of my son's heart, that he 
should thus speak to his father? Whai I have done, 
have I not done it for thee, not for myself ; not for my 
old days? I always thought of thee, and of how thou 
shouldest be a different man to thy father. I should have 
the labour and the anxiety, and thou shouldest go from the 
Castle to the garden, book in hand, and back to the Castle 
again, and move to and fro as thou wouldest. The bailiff 
should take off his cap, and the servants their hats, and 
they should all say, ' That is our young master, he w^ho 
walks yonder.' " 

" Yes," cried Bernhard, " this is vour love : you want to 



360 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



make me a partaker in an unrighteous deed. You are 
mistaken, father. Never will T go out of the Castle into 
the garden, book in hand ; rather will I, a poor beggar, beg 
my bread on the public road, than set my foot on an estate 
that has been gained by sin." 

"Bernhard !" cried the old man, wringing his hands in 
his turn, " thou castest a stone on thy father's heart, and 
its weight sinks him to the earth." 

" And you ruin your son," cried Bernhard in uncontrolled 
passion. " See to it for whom you are lying and cheating, 
for as sure as there is a heaven above us, it shall never be 
said that you have done it for your unhappy son ! " 

" My son," wailed the father, " do not smite my heart 
with your curses. Ever since you were a little lad, carry- 
ing your satchel to school, you have been all my pride. I 
have always allowed you to do your own pleasure. I have 
bought you books. I have given you more money than 
you required. I have watched your eyes to read your 
wishes there. "While I was toiling hard all day below, I 
used to think, ' Because of my pains, my son will rejoice.' " 
He took the corner of his dressing-gown to wipe his eyes, 
and tried to recover his composure. And so he sat, a broken- 
down man, face to face with his son. 

Bernhard looked silently at his father's bent head. At 
last he reached out his hand. " My father !" he gently said. 

Ehrenthal instantly seized the proffered hand between 
his, and holding it fast for fear it should be again with- 
drawn, he came nearer, kissed and stroked it. " Now thou 
art my own kind son once more !" said he with emotion. 
" Now thou wilt not speak such wicked words again, or 
quarrel with me about this Baron !" 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



361 



Bernhard snatched his hand away. 

" I will not press him ; I will have patience about the 
interest," said Ehrenthal beseechingly, trying to recover his 
son's hand. 

"Ah! it is useless to speak to him!" cried Bernhard in 
deepest distress; " he does not even understand my words." 

" I will understand everything," gasped out Ehrenthal, 
" if only you will give me back your hand." 

"Will you relinquish your plan about the estate?" asked 
Bernhard. 

" Speak not of the estate," besought the old man. 

" In vain !" murmured Bernhard, turning away and hiding 
his face in his hands. 

Ehrenthal sat by him annihilated, and sighing deeply. 
"Hear me, my son!" said he at length; "I will see if I 
cannot get him another estate that he can buy with his 
remaining means. Do you hear me, my son Bernhardt" 

"Go!" cried Bernhard without anger, but with the 
energy of intense grief " Go and leave me alone !" 

Ehrenthal rose and left the room, walking up and down 
vehemently in the next, wringing his hands, and talking to 
himself Then he opened the door, approached Bernhard's 
bed, and asked in a piteous voice, " Wilt thou not give me 
thy hand, my son?" But Bernhard lay silent, with averted 
face. 

It was with a beating heart that Anton, two days later, 
gave his name to the Baron's servant. 

" Wohlfart ! " cried the Baron, and the recollection of the 
letter returned disagreeably to him, "bring him in." He 
met Anton's low bow rather coolly. "I am obliged to 
you," said he, " for a letter lately received, and you must 



362 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



excuse my having, on account of much business on hand, 
left it unanswered." 

"If," began Anton, " I now take the liberty of calling 
with reference to the same subject, I implore you not to look 
upon it as intrusive. I come here charged with a message 
from a friend of mine who feels the most devoted respect 
for you and your family. He is the son of Ehrenthal the 
merchant. He himself is prevented from waiting upon you 
by illness, and therefore implores you through me to make 
use of the influence he possesses with his father. In the 
event of your thinking it probable that he may be of 
use, may I request you to communicate your wishes to 

him r 

The Baron listened eagerly. Now when everything for- 
sook him upon which he had himself relied, strangers began 
to interfere with his fate. This Itzig, for instance, and 
Wohlfart, and now Ehrenthal's son. " I know but little 
of the young man," said he with reserve ; " I must request 
you first of all to explain to me how I happen to have the 
honour of exciting such an unusual amount of interest in 
his mind." 

Anton replied with some warmth — " Bernhard Ehren- 
thal has a noble heart, and his life is stainless. Having 
grown up amongst his books, he understands little or 
nothing of his father's business matters ; but he is under 
the impression that the latter is led on by wicked advisers, 
to act the part of an enemy towards you. He has influ- 
ence over his father — his fine sense of rectitude is miich 
disturbed — and he ardently wishes to hold back a parent 
from proceedings which he himself considers dishonourable." 

Here was help ! It was a breath of fresh air piercing 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



363 



through the choking atmosphere of a sick-room ; but the 
fresh air made the patient uncomfortable. These honour- 
able men, so ready to condemn all that did not approve 
itself to their own sense of honour, had become distressing 
to the Baron. At all events, he would not expose himself 
to this Wohlfart — the very essence, no doubt, of scrupulous 
conscientiousness. And accordingly he replied with affected 
cordiality, " My relations to the father of your friend are 
precisely such as might be facilitated by the kindly inter- 
vention of one mutually interested in us both. Whether 
young Ehrenthal, however, be the proper person, I cannot 
decide. Meanwhile, tell him that I am grateful for his 
sympathy, and that I purpose calling upon him at his 
own time to consult him on the subject." Upon which 
announcement Anton rose, the Baron accompanying him 
to the door, and, wonderful to say, making him a low 
bow. 

It was the result of no accident, that, as Anton passed 
through the ante-chamber, Lenore should enter it. " Mr. 
Wohlfart !" she cried with delight, and hurried to him. 
"Dear young lady !" cried he; and they met as old 
friends. 

They forgot their interval of separation ; they were as 
of old, partners in the dance. Both said how much they 
had altered since then, and while they said so, all the in- 
tervening years dropped off unperceived from each. 

" You wear upright collars again," cried Lenore with a 
slightly reproachful voice. Anton instantly turned them 
down. 

" Have you got the hood you then wore? It was lined 
with red silk, and it became you exquisitely." 



364 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



"My present hood is lined with blue," said Lenore, 
laughing. " And only thmk, the little Countess Lara is 
to be married next week ! She and I were talking of you 
not long ago. And Eugene, too, has written to us about 
you. How enchanting that you should have become ac- 
quainted with my brother ! Come this way, ]\Ir. Wohlfart ; 
I must hear liow the time has passed with you." She led 
him into the drawing-room, and made him sit by her on the 
sofa, looking at him with those smiling eyes whose light 
used fonnerly to make him so happy. Much in him had 
changed since then ; perhaps another maiden occupied his 
imagination now ; but when he looked upon the mistress of 
his early youth, the wild high-spirited girl matured into the 
noble and graceful woman, all the feelings of the past 
revived, and he breathed with rapture the perfumed air of 
the elegant saloon. 

" Now that I see you," said Lenore, " it seems to me as 
if our dancing-lessons had only been yesterday. That was 
a pleasant time for me too. Since then I have had much 
sorrow," added she, drooping her head. 

Anton lamented this with a fervour which made her 
look up brightly again. 

"What has brought you to my father?" inquired she at 
length, in an altered tone. 

Anton spoke of Bernhard, of his long sickness, and deep 
regard for her family, not conceahug that she herself was 
the chief cause of it, which made her look down, and fold 
the corners of her handkerchief together. " If you can find 
a way of recommending your father to use Bernhard's in- 
fluence, do so. I cannot get rid of a fear that there is a 
conspiracy carrying on against him in Ehrenthal's office. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



365 



Perhaps you will find means of letting Bemliard or me 
know how we can best be useful 1 " 

Lenore looked mournfully in Anton's face, and moved 
nearer to him. " You are to me like an old friend, and I 
can trust my sorrows to you. My father conceals the 
cause of his anxiety from my mother and me, but he is 
sadly changed the last few years. This factory requires 
much money, and he is often without any, I am sure. My 
mother and I pray daily that peace may be restored to us 
— a happy time like that when I first became acquainted 
with you. As soon as I can discover anything, I will write 
to you," said she with firm resolve ; " and when Eugene 
comes home on leave, he will seek you out." 

Thus Anton left the Baron's house, excited by his meet- 
ing with his fair friend, and full of anxiety to serve the 
whole family. At the house-door he stumbled upon Ehren- 
thal, who, in return for his distant bow, called after him to 
come very soon again to see his son Bernhard. 

Ehrenthal had spent a miserable day. He had never, 
in the whole course of his life, sighed or shaken his head 
so much before. It was in vain that his wife, Sidonia, 
asked her daughter, " What ails the man that he sighs so 
deeply?" It was in vain that Itzig sought to cheer his 
master's spirits, by drawing glowing pictures of the future. 
All the dissatisfaction in Ehrenthal' s breast exploded against 
his book-keeper. " It was you who advised me to take 
these steps against the Baron," he screamed at him on the 
morning after his scene with Bernhard. " Do you know 
what you are ? — you are a good-for-nothing fellow." Itzig 
shrugged his shoulders, and returned an ironical reply, 
which made Ehrenthal glad to bury his head in the news- 



366 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



paper. Longer than two days he could not endure the 
sight of the sorrow of his son, who got visibly worse, and 
only answered his father in monosyllables. " I must make 
a sacrifice,'' said Ehrenthal to himself. " I must give back 
sleep to his eyes, and put an end to his groaning. I will 
remember my son ; and I will get the Baron the Rosmin 
property, or I will save the money that he has invested in 
it, without any profit for myself. I shall lose in that way, 
for I might have arranged with Lowenberg so as to gain 
more than a thousand dollars, k, I think this will please my 
Bernhard." And putting his hat firmly on his head, as if 
to crush down all rebellious thoughts, he entered the dwell- 
ing of his debtor. 

The Baron received his unexpected visitor with breathless 
terror. " The warner is scarcely gone when the enemy 
arrives," thought he. " He is come to require the legal 
surrender of the mortgage." 

But what was his relief when Ehrenthal of his own 
accord politely requested that he might go to Rosmin on 
the Baron's behalf, and take the necessary steps. " I will 
employ as my coadjutor, a safe man — the Commissary- 
Walter — so that you may see that all is done legally. 
You will give me authority to bid for the property, and 
to raise it thus to such a sum as shall insure your mort- 
gage being covered by the purchase-money that some other 
will pay." 

" I know that this will be necessary," said the Baron ; 
but, for God's sake, Ehrenthal, what will be done if the 
property remains upon our hands !" 

Ehrenthal shrugged his shoulders. " You know that I 
did not persuade you into the mortgage ; indeed, I may say, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



367 



if I remember aright, that I even dissuaded you from it. 
If you had taken my advice then, you would probably never 
have bought that mortgage." 

" The thing is done, however," returned the Baron 
irascibly. 

" First of all. Baron, I must beg you to admit that I am 
innocent of this matter." 
" That is immaterial now." 

" It is immaterial to you," said Ehrenthal, " but not to 
me, and to my honour as a man of business." 

" What do you mean by that 1" cried the Baron, in a 
tone that made Ehrenthal start. "Do you dare to insinuate 
that anything can be immaterial to me, about which even 
your honour is sensitive ?" 

" Why are you so irritable, Baron 1 1 say nothing against 
your honour. God forbid that I should!" 

" You spoke of it, though," said the unhappy man. 

" How can you thus misunderstand an old acquaintance ? 
I only wish for your declaration that I am innocent of the 
purchase of this mortgage." 

" Be it so," cried the Baron, stamping. 

" Then it is all right. And should a misfortune befall 
us, and you be obliged to purchase the property, we will 
see what can be done. It is a bad time to lend money ; 
but still I will advance you a sum in return for a mortgage 
on the property." 

He then proceeded to make arrangements for his de- 
parture, as the Baron's representative, and left him a prey 
to conflicting emotions. 

Was he saved 1 was he lost ? A fear came over him 
that this mortgage would decide his fate. He resolved to 



368 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



go to Rosmin himself, and not leave matters to Ehren- 
thal. But then came the painful thought that he must 
needs repose unlimited trust in this man, lest the man 
learn to mistrust him, and so be drifted here and there in 
a sea of dangers. The waves rose and threatened his very 
life. 

That evening Ehrenthal entered his son's sick-room, 
and placed the newly-executed document on his bed. 
" Canst thou give me thy hand now ?" he said to his son, 
who looked gloomily before him. " I am to travel for 
the Baron. I am to buy him a new estate. We have 
settled it all together. Here is his signature authorizing 
me to act for him. I am to advance him capital ; if 
he is wise, he may again become a man of substance." 

Bernhard looked sorrowfully at his father, and shook 
his head. " That is not enough, my poor father," said 
he. 

" But I am reconciled to the Baron, and he has himself 
confessed that I am not to blame for his misfortunes. Is 
not that enough, my son V 

" No," said the invalid ; " so long as you keep that 
wicked man Itzig in your office, no joy can shine in on my 
life." 

" He shall go," said Ehrenthal readily ; " he shall 
go this next quarter, if my son Bernhard wishes it." 

" And will you give up the idea of buying the Baron's 
estate for yourself?" 

" When it comes to be sold, I will think of what you 
have said," replied his father. " And now speak no more 
about the estate ; when you are my strong healthy son 
again, we will return to the subject." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



360 



So saying he seized the hand which Bernhard delayed 
giving, held it fast in both his, and sat silently beside 
him. 

If ever in the course of his life Ehrenthal had known 
satisfaction, it was now, in having brought about this recon- 
ciliation with his son. 



370 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

TIT AVE after wave broke over the head of the drowning 
man. 

The factoiy had now been in operation for some months. 
The beet-root crop on the estate itself had been deficient, 
and the cultivation of it in the country round had proved 
unsuccessful. Many of the small farmers had failed to 
fulfil their contracts, and others had brought in inferior 
produce. There was a scarcity of beet-root as well as a 
scarcity of capital; the works stopped, the workmen dis- 
persed. 

Ehrenthal was gone off to the Polish property, and the 
Baron was consumed by the fever of suspense. At last 
came the dark day when Ehrenthal appeared before him, a 
letter from Commissary Walter in his hand. The Baron's 
capital had only been saved by his buying the estate. 

The owners of the first mortgage of a hundred thousand 
dollars had raised the property, by bidding, up to a hundred 
and four thousand ; they had then left off", and no other 
purchaser had come forward. 

" The estate is now yours, Baron," said Ehrenthal. 
" In order that you may be able to maintain it, I have 
negotiated with the owners of the first mortgage, and they 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



371 



will leave the hundred thousand upon the estate. I have 
advanced for you four thousand dollars, and the legal ex- 
penses." 

The Baron said not a word, his head fell heavily on his 
writing-table. As Ehrenthal left the room, he muttered : 
"It is all over with him. At the next quarter he will lose 
his old estate, and he has not energy to undertake the new. 
I shall have to buy the Polish property too, in the end." 

And now term-time drew near, and the Baron had the 
interest of all his borrowed money to pay. Once more he 
looked round for help. In vain ! Last of all he came to 
his neighbour, George Werner, who had for some years paid 
homage to Lenore, and then prudently drawn back, the 
Baron's embarrassments being no longer a secret. The 
young man showed all the sympathy conventional in such 
a case. He was very sorry, indeed, to hear that there was 
so large a mortgage upon the recently purchased property. 
" Whom did you send to the auction ?" asked he. 

" Hirsch Ehrenthal," was the reply. 

George Werner waxed eloquent. " I fear," cried he, 
" that that fellow has played you false. I know the 
usurer well — years ago we lost a large sum by his villany. 
My father had cut down a wood in the next province, and 
sold it to a timber-merchant. Ehrenthal made a cheating 
bargain with this man, got the timber from him at a 
nominal price, while the other fellow ran off to America. 
The two rogues shared my father s money." 

The Baron's face grew livid, he rose, said not another 
word about his concerns, and slunk out of his neighbours 
house like a felon. 

From that day he brooded darkly in his arm-chair, w-as 



372 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



harsh to his wife, unapproachable by his daughter. The 
two poor women suffered inexpressibly. 

One ray of hope still remained to him — Bernhard's 
influence with his father. But he would not take the 
hand unselfishly offered him. He did not send for Anton, 
but for another, of whom the idea was repulsive to him, 
yet whose grotesque presence seemed to cheer him when- 
ever they met. Once more, at the last hour, a gracious 
destiny left his choice free. But alas ! he was himself free 
no longer. It was the curse of an evil deed that now con- 
fused his judgment. 

Again Itzig stood before him, and the Baron looking 
askance at the bent figure, said — " Young Ehrenthal 
has offered to make up my difference with his father." 

Veitel leaped up suddenly as if he had been shot. 
" Bernhard !" said he. 

" That is his name, I daresay ; he is an invalid." 

" He will die," replied Veitel. 

''When?" asked the Baron, occupied with his own 
thoughts ; but recovering himself he added — " What is the 
matter with him f ' 

" It is here," said Itzig, laying his hand on his chest ; 
" it labours like a pair of bellows — when a hole is once 
torn, the breath ceases." 

The Baron put on an expression of sympathy, but, in 
reality, his only thought was, that he had no time to lose. 

The invalid," said he, " has sufficient influence over his 
father to give me hopes of Ehrenthal's consent to my 
wishes." 

" What does Bernhard know of business 1 he is a fool," 
cried Veitel, unable to conceal his annoyance. "If you 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



373 



were to put an old parchment covered with manuscript 
before him, he would give you any mortgage you liked for 
it ; he is half-witted." 

"I see that you do not approve this plan," said the 
Baron, again drifting hopelessly. 

Before Itzig replied, he stood for a long time reflecting, 
and restlessly looking away from the Baron into every 
corner of the room. At last, he said, in a more self-pos- 
sessed tone, The Baron is right. It will be best, after all, 
that you and Ehrenthal should go together to Bernhard's 
sickbed, and there finally settle your afi"airs." Again he was 
silent, and his face grew red with stormy thoughts. " Will 
the Baron be graciously pleased to leave me to fix the day 
and the hour when he can best speak to Bernhard Ehren- 
thal 1 As soon as you enter the office, I will go up and tell 
him that you are there. Meanwhile you will have the 
goodness to wait in the office, even if I should be half-an- 
hour away. You will wait, whatever Ehrenthal may say. 
And when I take you up stairs, all will be right, for Bern- 
hard can do what he likes with his father." 

" I shall wait till I hear from you," decided the Baron, 
distressed at the thought of the painful day. 

Itzig then took his leave, and rushed in frantic excite- 
ment to his lair in the house of Pinkus. Arrived there, he 
ran wildly up and down, clenching his fist at the thought 
of Bernhard. He opened his old desk, and took out of a 
secret drawer two keys, which he laid on the table, and 
stood looking at them steadfastly and long. At length he 
pushed them into his pocket, and ran down to the cara- 
vanserai. There, cowering in a corner of the gallery, he 
found his sagacious friend, Mr. Hippus, whose aspect had 



374 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



certainly not improved dmiug the last few years. He was 
now sitting squeezed into a corner where the sunlight fell, 
and was reading a dirty romance. When Yeitel hurriedly 
entered, he only buried his head deeper in his book, for 
which he appeared to care far more than for the young 
man of business before him. 

" Shut up your book, and listen to me," cried Itzig im- 
patiently. "Rothsattel will get his notes - of - hand back 
from Ehrenthal, he will give in the mortgage, and I 
shall have to pay him the remaining eight thousand 
dollars." 

"Only think, only think!" replied the old man, wag- 
ging his ugly head ; " what things one lives to see ! If 
Ehrenthal gives his money away to a vagabond who has 
broken his word, it will be time for us all to mend our 
ways, and turn honest. Before, however, we speak fur- 
ther, you may just bring me up something to eat and 
drink. I am tliirsty, and have not another word to say at 
present." 

Veitel hurried down stairs, and the old man looking 
after him, muttered, "Now for it, now for it !" 

AVhen Veitel had placed his meal before him, Hippus 
briefly inquired, " How much ?" 

" Three hundred," said the old man ; " and even then I 
must have time to consider. It is not in my line, most 
worthy Itzig. I am willing to labour in my vocation for 
less, as you have experienced ere now, but for a noble ex- 
ploit, in the style of Cartouche and others of your friends, 
I requu'e better compensation. I am only a volunteer,- 
and I cant say that my preferences lie in this direc- 
tion." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



375 



" Do mine ? " cried Itzig. " If there be any other 
means to take, tell me them. If you know how the 
Baron and Elirenthal can be kept asunder, say so. Ehren- 
thal's only son will make peace between them ; he will 
stand between them like the winged cupid on a valentine, 
between two lovers, and we shall be done." 

" We?'' chuckled the old man. You will be done, 
you jack-daw. What are your affairs to me 

" Two hundred," cried Veitel, drawing nearer. 

"Three," replied the old man, tossing off his glass ; 
" but even then I will not do it alone, you must be there." 

" If I am to be there," said Veitel, " I can do it alone, 
and shall not require your help. Listen to me. I will 
contrive that the house shall be empty, that Ehrenthal and 
the Baron shall leave the office at the same moment. I 
will give you a sign, to say whether the papers are on the 
table or in the press. It will be dark. You will have 
about half-an-hour's time. I will fasten the house-door, 
and unbolt the back-door, which is generally closed. It 
will all be so safe, that a child of two years might do it 
easily." 

" Safe enough for you," said the old man drily, " but 
not for me." 

" We have tried what could be done with the law, and 
it has not answered," cried Veitel ; " now we must defy 
it." He struck the balustrade with his clenched fist, and 
ground his teeth fiercely. " And if you don't choose to 
do it, still it shall be done, though I know that all the sus- 
picion will fall upon me, unless I am in Bernhard's room 
at the time." 

" Very fine, indeed, gallant Itzig," said the man, adjust- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



ing his spectacles, so as to observe more closely the ex- 
pression of the other's countenance. "Since you are so 
brave, I will not leave you in the lurch. But three hun- 
dred !" 

The bargaining then began. The pair squeezed them- 
selves into the furthest corner of the gallery, and whispered 
together till dark. 

A few days later, at twilight, Anton entered his friend's 
sick-room. "I am come to pay you a flying visit, just 
to see how you are." 

" Weak," replied Bemhard ; " still very weak, and 
breathing becomes very difficult. If I could only get out, 
only once out of this gloomy room." 

" Does not your doctor allow you to drive out ? If the 
sun be bright and warm, I will bring a carriage to-morrow 
and take you a drive." 

" Yes," cried Bernhard ; " you shall come. I shall 
have something to tell you then." He looked cautiously 
around. " I have this day received, by the town-post, a 
note without a signature." He drew it out from under his 
pillow, and gave it with a mysterious look to his friend. 
" Take it — perhaps you know the hand." 

Anton went to the window, and read, "The Baron 
Rothsattel wishes to speak to you this evening. Contrive, 
therefore, to be alone with your father." 

When Anton gave back the note, Bemhard received it 
reverentially, and replaced it under his pillow. " Do you 
know the hand V said he. 

" No," replied Anton, " the hand seems a feigned one ; 
it is not the young lady's." 

" Whoever the writer may be," continued Bernhard de- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



377 



jectedly, "I hope for a good result from this evening's 
interview. Wohlfart, this dispute lies like a hundred- 
weight on my breast; it takes my breath away. This 
evening I shall be better, I shall be free." 

Speaking had tired him. " Farewell, then, till morning," 
said Anton. As he rose he heard the rustle of ladies' 
dresses, and Bernhard's mother and sister approached the 
bed, and greeted the visitor. "How are you, Bernhardt" 
asked his mother ; " you will be all alone with your father 
this evening. There is a great musical meeting, and Rosalie 
is to play. "We have moved the piano into the back-room, 
]\Ir. Wohlfart, that Bernhard may not be disturbed by 
Rosalie's practising." 

" Sit down for a moment beside me, mother," said 
Bernhard ; "it is long since I have seen you handsomely 
dressed. You look beautiful to-day ; you had just such a 
gown as this, when I, as a boy, took scarlet-fever. When 
I dream of you, I always see you in a yellow dress. Give 
me your hand, mother ; and while you listen to the music 
this evening, think, too, of your Bernhard, who will be 
making silent melody here." 

His mother sat down beside him. " He is feverish 
again," said she to Anton, who silently assented. 

" To-morrow, I shall go out into the sunshine," cried 
Bernhard in an excited tone ; " that will be my enjoy- 
ment." 

" The carnage waits," said Rosalie, remindingly ; " and 
we have to go out the back-way, which is dirty. Itzig 
has persuaded my father that the carriage must not drive 
round to the front for fear of disturbing Bernhard." 

" Good-night, Bernhard," said his mother, once more 



378 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



reaching out her plump hand. The ladies hurried away. 
Anton followed them. 

" What do you think of Bernhardt " asked the mother, 
as they went down stairs. 

" I consider him very ill," Anton replied. 

" I have already told my husband, that when summer 
comes, and I go with Rosalie to the baths, we will take 
Bernhard with us." 

Anton went home with a heavy heart. 

The house grew silent — nothing was to be heard in the sick- 
room but the laboured breathing of the sufferer. But there 
was a stir on the floor below him, — doubtless a mouse 
gnawing the wainscoat. Bernhard listened uneasily. " How 
long will it go on gnawing 1 till it makes a hole at last, and 
comes into the room." A shudder came over him — he 
tossed about on his bed — the darkness seemed to press 
him in — the air grew thick. He rang till the maid came 
and set down the lamp. Then he gazed languidly round. 
The room looked old and prison-like to-day, it appeared 
unfamiliar to him, like some room in a strange house, where 
he was only a visitor. He looked with indifference at his 
library, and the drawer where lay his beloved manuscripts. 
Tliat spot upon the floor — that chink through which the 
light from the next room shone in every evening, to-morrow 
he would leave them all to drive with Anton. He won- 
dered whether they would take the road the young lady 
took when going to and fro between town and her father's 
estate. Perhaps they might meet her. His eye beamed, 
he confidently believed that they should meet her. She 
would sit queen-like in her carriage, her veil flying round 
her blooming face ; she would raise her white hand and 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



379 



wave it to him. Nay, slie would recognise him ; she would 
know that he had rendered her father a service, she would 
stop and inquire how he was. He should speak to her — 
should hear the noble tones of her voice. She would bow 
once more, then the carriages would separate, one here, the 
other there. And whither would he go ? — " Into the sun- 
shine," whispered he. And again he listened anxiously to 
the gnawing of the mouse. 

A hurried step came through the room beyond. Bern- 
hard sat up — the blood mounted to his face. It was the 
father of Lenore who was coming to him ! The door 
opened softly, an ugly face peeped in and glanced stealthily 
around the room. Bernhard cried in dismay — " What do 
you want here 

Itzig went up to the bed in haste, and breathing hard, 
said, in a voice that sounded as choked as that of the in- 
valid : " The Baron has just gone into the oflBce. He 
has told me to come to you, and to persuade you to 
support the proposal that he is about to make to your 
father." 

" He has said that to you?" cried Bernhard. " How 
can the Baron give a message to a man like you ?" 

" Hold your peace," rejoined Veitel rudely ; " there is 
no time for your speeches. Listen to what I have to say. 
The Baron promised your father, on his word of honoui", 
security for twenty thousand dollars, and now he cannot 
give him that security, because he has sold the deed to 
another. He has broken his word, and now demands that 
your father should renoimce his security. If you can 
advise your father to lose twenty thousand dollars, why, 
do so." 



380 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Bernhard trembled all over. " You are a liar !" cried he. 
" Every word that proceeds from your mouth is hypocrisy, 
double-dealing, and deceit." 

" Hold your peace," replied Veitel in feverish anxiety. 
" You are not to persuade your father to his harm. There 
is no helping this Baron ; he is a fly who has burnt his 
wings in the candle, he can only crawl. And even if Ehren- 
thal be fool enough to follow your evil counsel, he cannot 
maintain for the Baron possession of his estate. If he does 
not eject him, another will. I have no interest in saying 
this to you," continued he, uneasily listening to a sound in 
front of the house ; " I do so merely out of attachment to 
your family." 

Bernhard struggled for breath. " Get out of my sight !" 
said he at length ; " there is nothing but deceit and false- 
hood on earth." 

" I will bring up the Baron and your father," said 
Veitel, and rushed out of the room. 

Meanwhile, Ehrenthal's angry voice sounded loudly on 
the ground-floor. " I will go to the lawyer ; I will expose 
you and your intrigues." 

Veitel burst open the door. The Baron sat on the stool, 
and hid his face with his hands. Ehrenthal stood before 
him trembling with rage. On the desk stood the Baron's 
casket, containing the fatal notes-of-hand, and the mort- 
gage. Veitel cried out : " Have done, Ehrenthal ; your 
Bernhard is very ill, he is all alone up-stairs, and calls 
for you and for the Baron, he wants you both beside 
him." 

"What means this?" screamed Ehrenthal. "Are you 
intriguing with my son, too, behind my back ? " 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



381 



" Have you shown him the new mortgage that you 
have had drawn up for him asked Yeitel hurriedly. 

" He will not even look at it," returned the Baron 
gloomily. 

" Give it me," said Veitel, and he laid a new deed 
before Ehrenthal: 

" You want me to take a bit of paper instead of my 
good money, mere trash that is not worth my burning." 

"Will you not give over!" cried Veitel in greatest 
distress. " No one is up-stairs with Bernhard, and he is 
calling out for you and the Baron ; he will do himself a 
mischief. Do go up-stairs ; he has groaned out that I am 
to bring you both to him immediately." 

" Just God ! " cried Ehrenthal, " what is to be done ! 
I cannot come to my son, I am in terror about my 
money." 

" He will cry himself to death !" said Veitel ; " you can 
speak about the money long enough afterwards. Do make 
haste." 

The Baron and Ehrenthal both left the office. Itzig 
followed. Ehrenthal locked the door, laid the iron bar 
across it, and fastened the bolts. As they went up-stairs 
a piece of money rang upon the step. Ehrenthal looked 
round. " It dropped out of my pocket," said Veitel. 

The Baron and Ehrenthal entered the sick-chamber, and 
Itzig pushed himself in after them, creeping along the wall 
to the window behind Bernhard, so that the latter should 
not see him. The Baron sat down at the head of the bed, 
the father at the foot ; and the lamp threw a pale light on 
the parties who came to wrangle about capital and security 
in the presence of the dying. The nobleman began by a 



382 



DKEIT AND CREDIT. 



courteous speech, referring to Beruhard's visit to his estate, 
hoping soon to welcome him there again ; but his eyes 
rested with terror on the sunken face, and an inner voice 
told him the last hour was near. Bernhard sat up in his 
bed, his head resting on his breast ; and, raising his hand, 
he interrupted the Baron, saying : " I pray you. Baron, to 
tell me what you require from my father, and while doing 
so, to recollect that I am no man of business." 

The Baron proceeded to state his case. Ehrenthal was 
often about to interrupt him, but each time Bernhard 
waved his hand, and then the old man stopped, and con- 
tented himself with vehemently shaking his head, and 
mumbling to himself. 

When the Baron's statement was over, Bernhard beckoned 
to his father. " Come nearer me, and listen quietly to my 
words." 

The father stooped down with his ear close to his son's 
mouth. "What I am about to say," continued Bernhard 
in a low voice, " is my firm resolve, and it is not one 
taken this day. If you have made money, it was with the 
hope that I should outlive you, and be your heir. Was it 
not so ? " 

Ehrenthal vehemently nodded assent. "If, then, you 
behold your heir in me, listen to my words. If you love 
me, act in accordance with them. I renounce my inherit- 
ance so long as we both live. What you have laid up 
for me has been laid up in vain. I require nothing for 
my future. If it be appointed me to recover, I wiU learn 
to support myself by my own laboiu-. Beside your love 
and your blessing, father, I want nothing. Think upon 
this." 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



383 



Ehrenthal raised his arms, and cried, " What words are 
these, my Bernhard, my poor son ! Thou art ill ; thou art 
very ill!" 

" Hear me further," besought Benihard. " ^Vhatever 
your claims may be on this gentleman's estate, they must 
be given up. You have been connected with him in busi- 
ness for long years ; you must not be the means of making 
his family unhappy. I do not ask you to give away the 
large sum in question. That would pain you too much, 
and would be humiliating to him ; all I require is, that you 
should accept the security he offers you. If he ever pro- 
mised you any other, forget it ; if you have papers in your 
possession which compromise him, give them back." 

" He is ill ! " groaned his fjither ; " he is very ill ! " 

" I know that this will pain you, my father. Ever since 
you left your grandfather s house, a poor barefooted Jew- 
boy, with one dollar in your pocket, you have thought of 
nothing but money-making. No one ever taught you 
anything else, and your creed excluded you from the society 
of those who better understood what gave value to life. I 
know it goes to your heart to risk a large sum. But 
yet, father, you will do it ; you will do it because you love 
me !" 

Ehrenthal wrung his hands, and said, with floods of 
tears, " You know not what you ask, my son ! You plead 
for a robbery — a robbery from your father ! " 

The son took his father's hand. "You have always 
loved me. You have wished that I should be different 
from yourself. You have always given heed to my words, 
and before I could express a wish you have fulfilled it. 
But this is the first great request that I have ever made. 



384 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



And this request I will whisper in your ear as long as I 
live ; it is the first, father, and it will be my last." 

" Thou art a foolish child !" cried the father, beside him- 
self ; " thou askest my life, my whole substance." 

" Fetch the papers," replied Bernhard. " I must, with 
my own eyes, see you give back to the Baron what he 
wishes to retract, and receive from him what he can still 
give." 

Ehrenthal took out his handkerchief, and wept aloud : 
"He is ill. I shall lose him, and I shall lose my money 
too." Meanwhile, the Baron sat silent, and looked down. 
As for Itzig, he was clenching his fist convulsively, and 
unconsciously tearing the curtain down from the pole. 

Bernhard looked at his father's emotion unmoved, and 
repeated with an eff'ort, "I will have it so ; bring the papers, 
father." Then he sank back on his pillow. His father 
bent over him, but with a silent gesture of aversion, Bern- 
hard waved him off, saying, " Enough, you hurt me." 

Then Ehrenthal rose, took up his ofl&ce-candle, and 
tottered out of the room. 

The Baron still sat as before ; but in the midst of his 
suspense, he was conscious of flashes that resembled joy. 
He saw a spot of blue in his clouded sky. His promise 
given back to him, eight thousand dollars to receive from 
the man in the window, he might look up once more. He 
took Bernhard' s hand, and pressing it, said, " I thank you, 
sir ; how I thank you ! You are my deliverer, you save 
my family from despair, and me from disgrace." 

Bernhard held the Baron's hand firmly in his, and a 
blissful smile passed over his face. Meanwhile, the one in 
the window was grinding his teeth in his phrenzy of anxiety, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



385 



and pressing himself against the wall to control the fever-fit 
which shook him. 

Thus they remained a long while. No one spoke. 
Ehrenthal did not return. Suddenly the room-door was 
burst open, and a man rushed in furious, with distorted 
face and streaming hair. It was Ehrenthal, holding in his 
hand the flaring candle, but nothing else. 

" Gone ! " said he, clasping his hands, and letting the 
candle fall ; " all gone, all is stolen." He fell on his son's 
bed, and stretched out his arms, as if to implore help 
from him. 

The Baron sprang up, not less horrified than Ehrenthal. 
" What is stolen 1 " cried he. 

"Everything!" groaned Ehrenthal, looking only at his 
son. " The notes-of-hand are gone, the mortgages are 
gone. — I am robbed," screamed he, springing up. " Rob- 
bery ! burglary ! Send for the police ! " And again he 
rushed out, the Baron following him. 

Half-fainting and bewildered, Bernhard looked after 
them. Itzig now stepped out from the window, and came 
to the bed. The sufferer threw his head on one side, and 
gazed at him as the bird does at the snake. It was the 
face of a devil into which he gazed ; the red hair stood up 
bristling, hellish dread and hate were in every ugly feature. 
Bernhard closed his eyes, and covered them with his hand. 
But the face came nearer still, and a hoarse voice whispered 
in his ear. 

Meanwhile, two men stood in the office below, and 
looked at each other in stupid amazement. The casket 
and its contents were gone. The deeds that the Baron 
had laid on the desk were gone too. Ehrenthal had un- 
2 B 



386 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



locked the door as usual. There was nothmg "wrong with 
the bolts. Everything stood in its right place. If any 
money had been taken out of the drawer, it could be but 
very little. There was not a sign of the well-secured shut- 
ters having been touched ; it was inexplicable how the. 
documents could have been taken away. 

Then they searched the whole ground-floor : nothing to 
be seen — even the house-door was locked. They recol- 
lected that the cautious book-keeper had done that as they 
went up-stairs. Again they went back to the office and 
searched every corner, but more rapidly and more hope- 
lessly than before. Then they sat over against each other, 
watching for some token of treachery ; and again they 
sprang up and mutually poured out such reproaches as only 
despair can invent. 

The papers had vanished from Ehrenthal's office just as 
he had unwillingly yielded to his son's entreaties for a re- 
conciliation with the Baron. He had not, indeed, made 
up his mind to it, he had only gone to fetch the papers. 
Would any one believe that those papers were stolen ? 
Would his own son believe him ? 

And as for the Baron, his loss was greater still. He 
had just had a hope of rescue, now he fell again into an 
abyss beyond his fathoming. His notes-of-hand were in 
some stranger's possession. If the thief understood how to 
make use of them, nay, if the thief were only apprehended, 
he was lost ; and if they were never found again, still he 
wiis equally lost. He was not in a condition to make any 
arrangement with Ehrenthal ; he was not in a condition to 
pay any of his creditors ; he was lost beyond possibility of 
deliverance. Before him lay poverty, failure, disgrace. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



387 



Again there recurred to his mind that court of honour, his 
fellow-officers, and the unfortunate young man who had de- 
stroyed himself. He had been obhged to view the body ; 
he knew how one looks who has died thus ; he knew too 
now how a man comes thus to die ; once he had shuddered 
at the image of the corpse, now he shuddered at it no 
longer. His lips moved, and as in a dream he said to him- 
self, " That is the last resource." The door was now torn 
open, a hideous head appeared, and a wild cry was heard, 
" Come up, Hirsch Ehrenthal ; your son is dying." Then 
the apparition vanished, Ehrenthal rushed off with a shriek, 
and the Baron tottered out of the house. 

When the father fell down beside his son's bed, a white 
hand was lifted up once more, then a corpse fell back. 
Bernhard was gone out into the sunshine. 

The evening was warm. A light mist hid the stars, but 
there was still a pleasant twilight. The balmy breath of 
the flowering shrubs in the public gardens was wafted into 
the streets. The passers-by returned slowly home, sorry 
to leave the sweet south breeze, and shut themselves up 
in-doors. The beggar stretched himself comfortably out on 
the threshold of the stately house ; every young fellow who 
had a sweetheart led her out with him through the streets. 
He who was weary forgot his past day's work ; he who was 
sad felt his sadness less on such an evening as this ; he who 
was alone the whole year, felt impelled to seek companion- 
ship to-day. Groups stood laughing and chattering at the 
doors, children were playing, the caged nightingale sang 
her sweetest song, sang of the early summer — that happy 
time when life is sweet and fond hopes blossom. 

Through these swarms of people a tall man walked 



388 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



slowly, his head sunk on his breast. He did not hear the 
nightingale's note, and passed through the circle of dancing 
children without one sound of their happy voices falling 
upon his ear. He passed into the suburbs, slowly ascended 
a flower-crowned hill, and sat down on a bench. Beneath 
him the dark river rolled onwards to the sea, and opposite 
him rose the mighty mass of the old cathedral. The river 
was covered with timber rafts brought down from the moun- 
tains. On these rafts stood the little huts of their rowers 
with small fires in them, at which the men were now pre- 
paring their suppers. He too had had to do with timber rafts 
like these, and the money he had thus won had been spoken 
of as a theft. He got up hastily and hurried down the hill. 

His way lay through an alley of tall sycamores, and 
again he stopped, and wearily leaned against the trunk of 
a tree. Before him rose the chimneys of the manufacturing 
part of the town. He too knew what it was to build a tall 
pile like that. He had laid all he had at its base — ^his 
strength, his money, his honour. He had paid for it with 
sleepless nights and whitened hair ; it was the tombstone 
of his race which he had raised on his estate, and what he 
now saw before him in the uncertain light was a monster 
churchyard, full of shado^vy monuments, beneath which lay 
coffined the peace of mind of many wretched men ; and 
nodding, he said, and started to hear his own words, " It 
is the last." He rose and went to his house. 

On his way thither he felt how comforting it was to 
think of that which would free him from such hideous 
pictures. He went in and smiled when the lamp shone on 
his face. As he stood in the hall he could hear voices in 
his wife's room. Lenore was reading aloud. He listened 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



389 



and heard that she was reading a novel. He would not 
frighten those poor women ; but there was a back-room 
apart from all the rest — he would go there. While he was 
still standing in the hall, the room-door opened, and the 
Baroness looked out. She gave an involuntary start when 
she saw him. He smiled and cheerfully entered the room, 
gave his hand to his wife, stroked Lenore's head, and bent 
down to see what she was reading. The Baroness regret- 
ted that she had had her tea without him, and he joked her 
about her impatience for her favourite beverage. He went 
to the cage in which two foreign birds were sitting on the 
same perch, their small heads resting against each other, 
and putting his fingers to the wires as if to stroke them, he 
said absently, " They are gone to rest." Then taking the 
wax-light from the servant's hand, he moved towards his 
own room. As he took hold of the door-handle he re- 
marked that his wife's eyes followed him anxiously, and 
turning towards her he nodded cheerfully. Then he closed 
the door, took a polished case out of his writing-table, 
and earned it and the candle to the small back-room. Here 
he was sure he should disturb no one. 

Slowly he loaded. In loading he looked at the inlaid 
work on the barrels. It had been the toilsome task of 
some poor devil of a gunmaker — it had often been admired 
by his acquaintance. The pistols themselves had been a 
wedding-present from the general, who had on one occa- 
sion acted the part of father to his orphan bride. He hur- 
riedly rammed down the charge, then looked behind him. 
When he fell it should not be on the floor ; he would not 
make on those who should come in, the same painful im- 
pression that his outstretched comrade had made on him. 



390 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



He placed the barrel to his temple. At that moment a 
woman's shriek was heard, his wife rushed in, his arm was 
seized with the strength of despair, he started, and his 
finger touched the trigger : a flash, a report, and he sank 
back on the sofa, and groaning, raised both his hands to 
his eyes. 

In the merchant's house the bereaved father came, candle 
in hand, out of the room of the dead to the office below. 
He looked anxiously about on the desk, in the cupboard, 
in every corner of the room, then sat down, shook his head, 
and marvelled. Then he locked up the office, went up 
stairs again, and fell groaning and crying on the bed. So 
he spent the whole night, seeking and wailing, wailing and 
seeking — a distracted, desolate, broken-down man. 



1 



DEBIT AND CiLEDIT. 



391 



CHAPTER XXVI. 



TN the merchant's house, domestic life flowed smoothly on 
again. The small disturbance made by the return of 
Anton had gradually settled down. Those first-class trea- 
sures of Sabine's presses had made way for other specimens 
of damask, still of a superior kind it is true, but which 
came within the compass of the elderly cousin's compre- 
hension. She had been quite right in prophesying that 
Anton would never remark those signs of exuberant grati- 
tude or their withdrawal. However, one change had been 
permanently made — the greatest, the best of all changes — 
the clerk retained a privileged place in the heart of the 
young mistress of the firm ; and his tall figure often appeared 
as one of the circle that Sabine's fancy loved to gather 
round her when at her work-table or in her treasure-chamber. 

To-day she was walking restlessly up and down before 
dinner. The cousin, who heard everything, had just told 
her that a maid from Ehrenthal's had run into the ofl&ce to 
announce Bernhard's death to his friend. " How will he 
bear it?" thought she. And the name of Ehrenthal forced 
' her thoughts back to the past, to one now far away, and to 
that painful hour when the struggle going on in her own 
mind had been suddenly brought to a close by a letter from 



392 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



th3 house of the departed. And Anton had known of that 
conquered feeling of hers. How considerate he had always 
been, how chivalrous, how helpful! She wondered if he 
had any idea of the completeness of her triumph over a 
girlish illusion. She shook her head. " No, he has not. It 
was here, at this very table, that an accident first betrayed 
me to him. That past time still rises like a cloud between 
us. Whenever I sit near Wohlfart of an evening, I am 
conscious of another's shadow at my side; and when he 
speaks to me, his tone, his manner always seem to say, 
' You are not alone — he is with you.' " Sabine started, and 
lovingly passed her hand over the beautiful flowers on the 
table before her, as if to dispel a painful thought. She 
could not tell him that she was free from that long -felt 
sorrow ! Now, however, when he had lost a friend whom 
he so much loved, she must show him that there were 
other hearts that clung to him still. And again she walked 
up and down, trying to devise a way of speaking to him 
alone. 

Dinner was announced. Anton came with the rest, 
and took his place at once. There was no opportunity of 
exchanging a word during the meal; but he often met her 
sad and sympathizing eyes. " He eats nothing at all to-day," 
whispered the cousin; "not even any of the roast," she 
added, reproachfully. Sabine was much perturbed. Mr. 
Jordan had already risen ; Anton would leave the room with 
the rest, and she should not see him again the whole day 
through. So she called out, " The great Calla is fully blown 
now. You were admiring the buds the other day ; will you 
remain a moment ; I should like to show it you 1 " Anton 
bowed, and stayed behind. A few more awkward moments, 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



393 



then her brother rose too; and hurrying to Anton, she took 
him to the room where the flowers were. 

" You have had sorrowful tidings to-day," she began. 

"The tidings themselves did not surprise me," replied 
Anton. " The doctor gave no hope. But I lose much in 
him." 

"I never saw him," said Sabine; "but I know from you 
that his life was lonely — poor in affection and in enjoyment." 

She moved an arm-chair towards Anton, and led him on 
to talk about his friend. She listened to every word with 
warm sympathy, and well knew what to ask, and how to 
comfort. It was a relief to Anton to speak of the departed 
one, to describe his quiet way of life, his erudition, his 
poetical enthusiasm. After a pause, Sabine looked up 
frankly into his face, and asked, " Have you any tidings of 
Herr von Fink?" 

It was the first time since his departure that she had 
ever breathed his name. Anton felt how touching her con- 
fidence was, given in this hour of his sadness. In his 
emotion, he seized her hand, which she was slow in with- 
drawing. 

" He is not happy in his new life," he gravely replied. 
" There was a savage humour in his last letter, from which 
I gather, even more than from his actual words, that the 
business into which his uncle's death has thrown him, does 
not suit him." 

"It is unworthy!" cried Sabine. 

" At all events it is not what would be recognised as 
honourable in this house," replied Anton. " Fink is upright, 
and has lived too long with your brother to take pleasure 
in the wild speculations so common on the other side the 



394 



DEBIT AxVD CREDIT. 



Atlantic. His partners and colleagTies are for the most 
part men without a conscience, and his feelings revolt 
against their companionship." 

" And can Herr von Fink tolerate such relations as these 
for a day?" 

" It is a remarkable thing that he whose own will was 
ever so arbitrarily exercised, should now be obliged against 
that will to obey a pressure from without, and everywhere to 
work with his hands tied. The organization of such specu- 
lations in America is so complicated, that one shareholder 
can do little to alter it. And now that Fink has attained 
what used to be the goal of his wishes — a large capital, 
and the management of immense districts — his condition 
appears more uncertain than it ever was before. He was 
always in danger of thinking slightingly of others ; now I 
am distressed at the bitter contempt he expresses for his 
own life. His last letter paints an intolerable state of 
things, and seems to point to some decisive resolve." 

" There is only one resolve for him," cried Sabine. " May 
I ask what you said to him in reply ? " 

" I entreated him instantly, come what would, to free 
himself from the business in which he was entangled. I 
said that his own strong will might find a way of extrica- 
tion, even if that which I pointed out proved impracticable. 
Then I begged of him, either to carry out his old plan of 
becoming a landed proprietor in America, or to return 
to us." 

" I knew that you would write thus," said Sabine, draw- 
ing a long breath. " Yes, Wohlfart, he shall return," said 
she gently; "but he shall not return to us." 

Anton was silent. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



395 



" And do you think that Herr von Fink will follow your 
advice V 

" I do not know. My advice was not very American." 
" But it was worthy of you," cried Sabine, with proud 
delight. 

"An officer wishes to speak to Mr. Wohlfart," said a 
servant at the door. 

Anton sprang up. Sabine went to her flowers and bent 
mournfully over them. The shadows of others hovered 
still between her friend and her. 

The few words spoken by the servant filled Anton with 
a vague terror. He hurried into the ante-room : there 
stood Eugene von Rothsattel. Anton was gladly rushing 
forward to greet him, but the young soldier's face of agony 
made him start back. He whispered — " My mother wishes 
to speak to you ; something dreadful has occurred." 
Anton caught up his hat, ran into the office, hurriedly 
asked Baumann to excuse him to the principal, and then 
accompanied the lieutenant to the Baron's house. 

On the way, Eugene, who had lost all self-command, 
said unconnectedly to Anton — " My father last night acci- 
dentally wounded himself by a pistol-shot — a messenger 
was sent to summon me — when I came, I found my mother 
in a swoon — my sister and I do not know what to do — 
Lenore implored my mother on her knees to send for you 
— you are the only one in whom we have any confidence 
in our distress — I understand nothing about business, but 
my father's aff'airs must be in a dreadful state — my mother 
is beside herself — the whole house is in the greatest dis- 
order." 

From what Eugene said, and what he did not say ; from 



396 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



his broken sentences and his look of agony, Anton guessed 
at the horrors of the previous evening. In the boudoir of 
the Baroness he found Lenore, weeping and exhausted. 

" Dear Wohlfart," cried she, taking his hand and begin- 
ning again to sob, while her head sank powerless on his 
shoulder. 

Meanwhile Eugene walked up and down wringing his 
hands, and at length throwing himself on the sofa, he gave 
himself up to silent tears. 

"It is horrible, Mr, Wohlfart," said Lenore, lifting up 
her head. " No one may approach my father, Eugene may 
not, nor I ; only my mother and old John are with him. 
And early this morning the merchant Ehrenthal was here, 
insisting that he must see my father ; he screamed at my 
mother and called my father a deceiver, till she fainted 
away. When I rushed into the room, the dreadful man 
went off threatening her with his clenched fist." 

Anton led Lenore to a chair and waited till she had told 
him all. There was no possibility of comforting in this 
case, and his own heart was wrung to the utmost by the 
misery he witnessed. 

" Call my mother, Eugene," said Lenore at length. 

Her brother left the room. 

" Do not forsake us," implored Lenore, clasping her 
hands ; " we are at the last gasp ; even your help cannot 
save us." 

" He is dead who might perhaps have done so," moum- 
fiiUy replied Anton. " Whether I can be of any use I know 
not, but you cannot doubt my willingness to be so." 

" No !" cried Lenore. "And Eugene, too, thought of you 
at once." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



397 



The Baroness now entered. She walked wearily ; but 
steadying herself by a chair, she saluted Anton with dignity. 
" In our position," said she, " we need a friend who knows 
more of business than we three do. An unfortunate 
accident prevents the Baron — possibly for a long time to 
come — from managing his own affairs, and little as I under- 
stand them, I can see that our interests require prompt 
measures. My children have mentioned you to me ; but I 
fear I am unreasonable in asking you to devote your time 
to our service." 

She sat down, beckoned to Anton to take a chair, and 
said to her children, " Leave us ; I shall be better able to 
tell Mr. Wohlfart the little that I know when I do not see 
your grief." 

When they were alone, she motioned him nearer and 
tried to speak, but her lips quivered, and she hid her face 
in her handkerchief. 

Anton looked on with deep emotion at the struggle she 
was undergoing. 

" Before I can consent, gracious lady," said he, " to your 
reposing in me such confidence as this, I must first inquire 
whether the Baron has no relative or intimate friend to 
whom you could with less pain make such a communica- 
tion. I pray you to remember that my own knowledge of 
business is but small, and my position not one to constitute 
me a proper counsellor to the Baron." 

" I know no one," said the Baroness, hopelessly. " It 
is less painful to me to tell you what I cannot conceal, 
than to one of our own circle. Consider yourself a 
physician sent for to visit a patient. The Baron has this 
morning told me some particulars of his present circum.- 



398 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



stances." And then she proceeded to relate what she had 
gathered as to the nature of his embarrassments, the danger 
in which the family property was placed, and the capical 
needed to take possession of the Polish estate. 

" My husband," continued she, " has given me the key 
of his desk, and he wishes Eugene, with the help of a man 
of business, to go over his papers. I now request of you 
to make this examination, together with my son. When 
you need explanations, I will try to obtain them from the 
Baron. The question is now, whether you are inclined to 
undertake this trouble for us, who are only strangers." 

" I am most willing to do so," earnestly replied Anton ; 
" and I hope that the kindness of my principal will allow 
me the time needful for the purpose, if you do not consider 
it more advisable to depute the Baron's experienced legal 
adviser to the task." 

" There will be an opportunity of asking that gentleman's 
advice later," said the Baroness. 

Anton rose. " When do you wish us to begin ?" 

" Immediately. I fear there is not a day to lose. I 
shall do all I can to help you to look the papers over." 
She led Anton into the next room, called in Eugene, and 
unlocked the Baron's desk. As she opened it she lost her 
self-command for a moment, and moving to the window, 
the quivering of the curtains betrayed the anguish that 
shook her fragile frame. 

The mournful task began. Hour after hour passed. 
Eugene was in no condition to peruse anything, but his mother 
reached letters and documents to Anton, and though often 
obliged to desist awhile, she bravely returned to the task. 
Anton placed the papers in order, and sought, by glancing 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



399 



over each, to arrive at least at a superficial view of the 
facts of the case. 

It was evening, when the old servant opened the door in 
dismay, and called out — " He is there again !" The 
Baroness could not repress a sliglit scream, and made a 
gesture of aversion. 

" I have told him that no one is at home, but he will 
not be dismissed ; he makes such a noise on the steps. I 
cannot get rid of him." 

" It will kill me if I hear his voice again," murmured 
tlfe Baroness. 

" If the man be Ehrenthal," said Anton, rising, " I will 
try to get him away. We have now done what was most 
necessary ; have the goodness to lock up these papers, and 
to allow me to return to-morrow." The Baroness silently 
assented, and sank back in her chair. Anton hurried off 
to the ante-room whence he could hear Ehrenthal's loudly 
raised voice. 

The appearance of the usurer shocked him. His hat 
pushed half off his head, his pale face swelled as if by 
drinking, his glazed eyes red with tears, Ehrenthal stood 
before him, calling in broken sentences for the Baron, wail- 
ing and cursing alternately. " He must come ! he must 
come at once !" cried he ; " the wicked man ! A nobleman, 
indeed ! he is a vagabond, after whom I will send the 
police. Where is my money? Where is my security? 
I want my mortgage from this man who is not at home." 

Anton Avent straight up to him, and asked — " Do you 
know me, Mr. Ehrenthal?" Ehrenthal turned his glazed 
eyes upon him, and gradually recognised the friend of his 
dead son. 



400 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" He loved you!" he cried in a lamentable voice. " He 
spoke to you more than to his father. You were the only 
friend that he had on earth. Have you heard what has 
happened in the house of EhrenthaH" continued he in a 
whisper. " Just as they stole the papers he died. He 
died with a hand like this," and clenching his fist he struck 
his forehead. " my son ! my son ! why didst not thou 
forgive thy father ! " 

" We will go to your son," said Anton, taking the arm 
of the old man, who unresistingly allowed himself to be led 
back to his own house. 

From thence Anton hurried to Councillor Horn, with 
whom he had a long conversation. 

It was late before he returned home. In the midst of 
his anxiety about those whose prosperity had filled his ima- 
gination years before, the confidence that they, in their 
adversity, reposed in him, dilated his breast with a feeling 
of pride. He burned with desire to help them, and hoped 
that his zealous devotion might yet find some way of rescue. 
As yet he saw none. Looking up at the great building 
before him, so firm and secure, in the moonlight, a thought 
flashed into his mind. If any man could help them, it was 
his principal. His keen eye would be able to unravel all 
the dark secrets in which the Baron was entangled, and his 
iron strength of will would crush the villains who held the 
unfortunate nobleman in their power. And then he had a 
noble nature, he always decided on the right, without an 
eff'ort or a struggle. Anton looked at the first floor. The 
whole house-front was dark, but in a comer-room a light 
still burned. It was the private office of his chief. 

With sudden resolve, Anton begged the servant to take 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



401 



him to Mr. Schroter, who looked with amazement at the 
UDexpected visitor, and asked what brought him, and 
whether anything had happened. 

"I implore your counsel; I implore your help," cried 
Anton. 

" For yourself, or for others 1 " inquired the merchant. 

" For a family with whom I have accidentally become 
connected. They are lost, if a strong hand does not ward 
off the impending catastrophe." Anton then rapidly re- 
lated the occurrences of the afternoon, and, seizing his 
principal's hand in his emotion, cried — " Have pity upon 
the unhappy ladies, and help them." 

" Help them ! " replied the merchant ; " how can 1 1 
Have you been commissioned to apply to me, or are you 
only following the impulse of your own feelings ? " 

" I am not commissioned ; it is only the interest that I 
take in the Baron's fate which leads me to you." 

"And what right have you to inform me of facts com- 
municated in strict confidence to yourself by the Baron's 
lady 1 " asked the merchant drily. 

" I am committing no indiscretion in telling you what 
will, in a few days, be no secret, even to strangers." 

" You are unusually excited, otherwise you would not 
forget that, under no circumstances whatever, does a man 
of business venture to make such a communication, without 
the special permission of the parties concerned. Of course, 
J shaU make no wrong use of what you have said, but it 
was by no means business-like, Wohlfart, to be so open 
towards me." 

Anton was silent, feeling, indeed, that his principal was 
right ; but yet it seemed hard to be blamed for reposing 
2 c 



402 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



confidence at such a time as this. The merchant walked 
silently up and down ; at length, stopping before Anton, 
he said — " I do not now inquire how you come to take so 
warm an interest in this family. I fear it is an acquaint- 
ance you owe to Fink." 

" You shall hear all," said Anton. 

" Not at present. I will now content myself with repeat- 
ing, that it is impossible for me to interfere in these affairs, 
without being specially applied to by the parties them- 
selves. I may add, that I by no means wish for such an 
application, and do not disguise from you, that were it made 
I should probably decline to do anything for the Baron 
Rothsattel." 

Anton's feelings were roused to the utmost. " The 
question is, the rescue of an honourable man, and of lovely 
and amiable women from the toils of rogues and impostors. 
To me, this seems the duty of every one, — I at least 
consider it a sacred obligation which I dare not shrink 
from. But without your support I can do nothing." 

" And how do you think this embarrassed man can be 
helped 1 " inquired the merchant, seating himself 

With somewhat more composure, Anton replied : " In 
the first instance, by an experienced man of business 
making himself master of the case. There must be some 
way of circumventing these villains. Your penetration 
wolild discover it." 

" Any attorney would be far more likely to do so, and 
the Baron might readily engage the services of experienced 
and upright legal advisers. If his enemies have done any- 
thing illegal, the quick eye of a lawyer is the most likely 
to detect it." 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



403 



« Alas ! the Baron's own lawyer gives but little hope," 
replied Anton. 

" Then, my dear Wohlfart, no other is likely to do much 
good. Show me an embarrassed man who has strength to 
grasp an offered hand, and bid me help him, and for the 
sake of all I owe you, I will not refuse to do so. I think 
you are convinced of this." 

" I am," said Anton dejectedly. 

"From all I hear, however," the merchant went on, 
"this is not the case with the Baron. From what I 
gather from general report, as well as from you, his embar- 
rassments arise from his having fallen into the hands of 
usurers, which proves him deficient in what alone ennobles 
the life of any man, — good sense, and the power of steady 
exertion." 

Anton could only sigh his assent. 

" To help such a man," inexorably continued the mer- 
chant, "is a futile attempt, against which reason may 
well protest. We are not to despair of any, but want of 
strength is the most hopeless case of all. Our power of 
labouring for others being limited, it becomes our duty to 
inquire, before we devote our time to the weak, whether 
we are not thus diminishing our chances of helping better 
men." 

Anton interrupted him. "Does he not deserve every 
allowance to be made for him ? He was brought up to 
exact much ; he has not learned, as we have, to make his 
way by his own labour." 

The merchant laid his hand on the young man's shoulder. 
" The very reason. Believe me, a large number of these 
landed gentry, who pay the penalty of their old family- 



404 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



memories, are beyond help. I am the last to deny that many 
worthy and admirable men belong to this class. Indeed, 
wherever remarkable talent or nobility of character shoots up 
among them, no doubt their position offers peculiar scope for 
its development, but for average men it is not a favourable 
one. He who considers it his hereditary privilege to enjoy 
life, and who assumes a distinguished position in virtue of 
his family, will very often fail to put forth his whole strength 
in order to deserve that position. Accordingly, numbers 
of our oldest families are declining, and their fall will be 
no loss to the State. Their family associations make them 
haughty without any right to be so — limit their perceptions 
and confuse their judgment." 

" Even if all this be true," cried Anton, " it does not 
absolve us from helping individuals of the class who have 
excited our sympathy." 

" No," said the principal, " if it be excited. But it does not 
glow so rapidly in advancing years as in youth. The Baron 
has endeavoured to isolate his property from the current of 
circumstances, in order to leave it for ever to his family. 
For ever ! You, as a merchant, know how to estimate the 
attempt. True, every rational man must allow it to be 
desirable that the culture of the same soil should be handed 
down from father to son. We all prize what our fore- 
fathers have possessed before us, and Sabine would unlock 
every room in this house with pride, because her great-great- 
grandmother turned the same keys before her. It is there- 
fore natural that the landed proprietor should desire to 
preserve those familiar scenes, which are the source of 
his own prosperity, to those nearest and dearest to him. 
But there must be means to this end, and these means are 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



405 



the making his own existence available for the maintenance 
and increase of his patrimony. Where energy dies in 
families or individuals, then it is well that their means die 
too, that their money should circulate through other hands, 
and their ploughshare pass to those who can guide it better. 
A family that has become effete through luxury, ought to 
sink down into common life, to make room for the uprising 
of fresh energies and faculties. Every one who seeks, at 
the cost of free activity for others, to preserve permanent 
possessions and privileges for himself or his family, I must 
look upon as an enemy to the healthy development of our 
social state. And if such a man ruin himself in his 
endeavours, I should feel no malicious pleasure in his down- 
fall, but I should say that he is rightly served, because he has 
sinned against a fundamental law of our social being. Con- 
sequently, I should consider it doubly wrong to support this 
man, because I could but fear that I should thus be sup- 
porting an unsound condition of the body politic." 

Anton looked down mournfully ; he had expected sym- 
pathy and warm concurrence, and he met with disaffection 
and coldness, that he despaired of conquering. " I cannot 
gainsay you," he at length replied ; " but in this case I 
cannot feel as you do. I have been witness to the un- 
speakable distress in the Baron's family, and my whole soul 
is full of sadness and sympathy, and of the wish to do 
something for those who have opened their heart to me. 
After what you have said, I dare no longer ask you to 
trouble yourself with their affairs ; but I have promised the 
Baroness to assist her as far as my small powers permit, 
and your kindness allows. I implore you to grant me per- 
mission to do this. I shall endeavour to be regular in 



406 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



my attendance at the ofl&ce, but if during the next few 
weeks I am occasionally absent, I must ask you to excuse 
me." 

Once more the merchant walked up and down the room, 
and then looking at Anton's excited face, with deep serious- 
ness and something of regret, he replied : " Remember, 
Wohlfart, that every occupation which excites the mind, 
soon obtains a hold over a man, which may retard as well 
as advance his success in life. It is this which makes it 
difficult to me to agree to your wishes." 

" I know it," said Anton in a low voice ; " but I have 
now no choice left." 

" Well then, do what you must," said the merchant 
gloomily ; "I will lay no hindrances in your way. And 
I hope that after a few weeks, you will be able to consider 
the whole circumstances more calmly." Anton left the 
room, and the merchant stood looking long with frowning 
brow at the place his clerk had occupied. 

Nor was Anton in a more congenial mood. " So cold, 
so inexorable !" exclaimed he, as he reached his own room. 
He began to suspect that his principal was more selfish and 
less kindly than he had hitherto supposed. Many an expres- 
sion of Fink's recurred to his mind, as well as that evening 
when young Rothsattel, in his boyish conceit, had spoken 
impertinently to the merchant. "Is it possible," thought 
he, " that that rude speech should be unforgotten ? " And 
his chiefs keen deep-furrowed face lost inexpressibly by con- 
trast with the fair forms of the noble ladies. " I am not 
wrong," he cried to himself ; " let him say what he will, 
my views are more just than his. And henceforth my 
destiny shall be to choose for myself the way in which I 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



407 



shall walk." He sat long in the darkness, and his thoughts 
were gloomy as it. Then he went to the window to 
look down into the dark court below. A great white 
blossom rose before him like a phantom. Striking a 
light, he saw that it was the beautiful Calla out of Sabine's 
room. It hung down mournfully on its broken stem. 
Sabine had had it placed there. This little circumstance 
struck him as a mournful omen. 

Meanwhile, Sabine, taper in hand, entered her brother's 
room. " Good-night, Traugott," nodded she. " Wohlfart 
has been with you this evening ; how long he stayed ! " 

" He will leave us," replied the merchant gloomily. 

Sabine started and dropped her taper on the table. 
" For God's sake, what has happened 1 Has Wohlfart said 
that he was going away ?" 

" I do not yet know it, but I see it coming step by step. 
And I cannot, and still less can you, do anything to retain 
him. When he stood before me here with glowing cheeks 
and trembling voice, pleading for a ruined man, I found out 
what it was that lured him away." 

" I do not understand you," said Sabine, looking full 
at her brother. 

" He chooses to become the confidential friend of a de- 
cayed noble. A pair of bright eyes draws him away from 
us ; it seems to him a worthy object of ambition to be- 
come Rothsattel's man of business. This intimacy with 
nobility is the legacy bequeathed to him by Fink !" 

"And you have refused to help him inquired Sabine 
in a low voice. 

" Let the dead bury their dead," said the merchant 
harshly ; and he turned to his writing-table. 



408 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



Sabine slowly withdrew. The taper trembled in her 
hand as she passed through the long suite of rooms listen- 
ing to her own footfall, and shuddering as the feeling came 
over her, that an invisible companion glided by her side. 
This was the revenge of that other ! The shadow that 
once fell on her innocent life now drove her friend away 
from their circle. Anton's affections clung to another. 
She had but been in his eyes a mere stranger, who had once 
loved and languished for one now far away, and who now, 
in widow's weeds, looked back regretfully to the feelings of 
her youth. 

The few next weeks were spent by Anton in over-hard 
work. He had great difficulty in keeping up his counting- 
house duties, while he spent every spare hour in conference 
with the Baroness and the lawyer. 

In the meantime, the misfortunes of the Baron ran their 
course. He had not been able to pay the interest of the 
sums with which his estate was burdened ; when last they 
were due, a whole series of claims was brought against 
him, and the estate fell under the administration of the dis- 
trict authorities. Complicated law-suits arose. Ehrenthal 
complained loudly, claiming the first mortgage of twenty 
thousand dollars, nay, he was inclined to advance claims on 
the last mortgage offered by the Baron in the recent fatal 
hour. Lobel Pinkus also appeared as claimant of the 
first mortgage, and asserted that he had paid the whole 
sum of twenty thousand dollars. Ehrenthal had no proof 
to bring forward, and had been for some weeks past 
quite unable to manage his own aflfau's, while Pinkus, on 
the contrary, fought with every weapon a hardened sinner 
can devise or employ, and the deeds which the Baron 



DEBIT AND CEEDIT. 



409 



had executed at Veitei's suggestion, proved to be so capital 
a master-stroke of the cunning advocate, that the Baron's 
man of business had, from the first, little hope of the case. 
We may here observe, that Pinkus did eventually win it, 
and that the mortgage was made over to him. 

Anton was now gradually gaining some insight into the 
Baron's circumstances. But the double sale of the first mort- 
gage was still kept a secret by the latter, even from his 
wife. He declared Ehrenthal's claim unfounded, and even 
expressed a suspicion that he had himself had something to 
do with the robbery in his office. Indeed, he really believed 
this. Then the name of Itzig was never broached, and the 
suspicion against Ehrenthal, which the Baron's lawyer 
shared, prevented Anton seeking any explanation from 
him. 

Meanwhile, an estrangement had sprung up between our 
hero and his principal, which the whole counting-house 
remarked with surprise. The merchant scowled at Anton's 
vacant seat when the latter chanced to be absent during 
office-hours, or looked coldly at his clerk's face, made pale 
as it was with excitement of mind and night-work. He 
took no notice of his new occupation, and never seemed to 
remark him. Even to his sister he maintained a stiff- 
necked silence : nor could all her attempts lead him 
to speak of Anton, who, on his side, felt his heart 
revolt against this coldness. After his return, to be treated 
like a child of the house, praised, promoted, petted ; and 
now to be treated like a mere hireling, who is not worth 
the bread thrown to him — to be a toy of an incomprehen- 
sible caprice ! This at least he had not deserved. So he 
became reserved towards the whole family, and sat silent 



410 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



at his desk ; but he felt the contrast between the now and 
the then so keenly, that often when alone, he would spring 
up and stamp on the ground in the bitter indignation of 
his heart. 

One comfort remained. Sabine was not estranged. 
True, he saw little of her, and at dinner she seemed to 
avoid speaking to him, but he knew that she was on his 
side. 

A few days after his first conversation with the mer- 
chant, she came down stairs as he stood in the hall, and 
had to pass him by so closely, that her dress touched him. 
He had retreated, and made a formal bow, but she looked 
at him imploringly, and whispered, "You must not be 
estranged from me." It was an afifair of a moment, but 
the faces of both were radiant with a happy understanding. 

The time had now arrived when I\Ir. Jordan was to quit 
the firm. The principal again called Anton into his little 
office, and without any severity, but also without a trace of 
his former cordiality, began, " I have already mentioned to 
you my intention of appointing you Jordan's successor. 
But during the last few weeks, your time has been more 
taken up with other business, than would be compatible 
with such a post. I, therefore, ask you whether you are 
now at liberty to undertake Jordan's duties ? " 

" I am not," replied Anton. 
Can you name any — not very distant — time when you 
will be free from your present occupation ? In that case, I 
will endeavour to find a substitute until then." 

Anton sorrowfidly replied, " I cannot at present say when 
I shall again be master of my whole time ; and, besides, I 
feel that even as it is, I tax your indulgence by many irre- 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



411 



gularities. Therefore, Mr. Schroter, I beg that you will fill 
up this post without any reference to me." 

The merchant's brow grew furrowed and dark, and he 
silently bowed assent. Anton felt as he closed the door 
that the estrangement between them was now complete, 
and resuming his place he leaned his throbbing head on his 
hand. A moment later Baumann was summoned to the 
principal, and Jordan's situation conferred upon him. On 
returning to the office he went up to Anton and whispered, 
" I refused at first, but Mr. Schroter insisted. I am doing 
you an injustice." And that evening Mr. Baumann, in his 
own room, read in the first book of Samuel, the chapters 
treating of the unjust Saul (the principal), and of the friend- 
ship between Jonathan and the persecuted David, and 
strengthened his heart thereby. 

The next day Anton was summoned to the Baroness. 
Lenore and her mother sat before a large table covered with 
jewel-boxes and toilette elegancies of every description, while 
a heavy iron chest stood at their feet. The curtains were 
drawn, and the subdued light shone softly into the richly 
furnished room. On the carpet glowed wreaths of unfading 
flowers, and the clock ticked cheerfully in its alabaster case. 
Under the shade of flowering plants sat the two love-birds in 
their silvered cage, hopping from perch to perch, screaming 
ceaselessly, or sitting up quietly close to each other. The 
whole room was beauty and perfume. — " For how long?" 
thought Anton. The Baroness rose. " We are already 
obliged to trouble you again," said she ; "we are engaged 
in a very painful occupation." On the table were all 
manner of ornaments, gold chains, brilliants, rings, neck- 
laces gathered into a heap. 



412 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" We have been looking out all that we can dispense with," 
said the Baroness, " and now pray you to undertake to sell 
these things for us. I have been told that some of them 
are of value, and as we are now in much need of money, 
we turn here for help." 

Anton looked in perplexity at the glittering heap, 

" Tell us, Wohlfart," cried Lenore anxiously, " is this ne- 
cessary ; can it be of any use 1 Mamma has insisted upon 
setting apart for sale all our ornaments, and whatever plate 
is not in daily use. What I can give is not worth talking 
of, but my mother's jewels are costly ; many of them were 
presents made to her in youth, which she shall not part 
with unless you say that it is necessary." 

" I fear," said Anton gravely, " that it will prove so." 

" Take them," said the Baroness to Anton ; " I shall be 
calmer when I know that we have at least done what we 
could." 

"But do you wish to part with all V inquired Anton 
anxiously. " Much that is dear to you may have but little 
value in a jeweller's eyes." 

" I shall never wear an ornament again," quietly replied 
the Baroness. " Take them all ; " and holding her hands 
before her eyes, she turned away. 

" We are torturing my mother," cried Lenore hastily ; 
" will you lock up all that is on the table, and get them 
out of the house as soon as you can ?" 

" I cannot undertake the charge of these valuables," said 
Anton, " without taking some measures to decrease my own 
responsibility. First of all, I will in your presence make a 
short note of all you intrust to me." 

" What useless cruelty ! " exclaimed Lenore. 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



413 



It will not take long." 

Anton took out a few sheets from his pocket-book, and 
began to note down the different articles. 

" You shall not see it done, mother," said Lenore, draw- 
ing her mother away, and then returning to watch Anton 
at his task. 

"These preparations for the market are horrible," said 
she. " My mother's whole life will be sold ; some memory 
of hers is linked with every single thing. Look, Wohlfart, 
the princess gave her this diamond ornament when she 
married my father." 

"They are magnificent brilliants," cried Anton ad- 
miringly. 

" This ring was my grandfather's, and these are presents 
of poor papa's. Alas ! no man can know how we love all 
these things. It was always a festival to me when mamma 
put on her diamonds. Now we come to my possessions. 
They are not worth much. Do you think this bracelet 
good gold ?" She held out her hand as she spoke. 

" I do not know." 

"It shall go with the rest," said Lenore, taking it off. 
" Yes, you are a kind, good man, Wohlfart," continued she, 
looking trustfully into his tearful eyes ; "do not forsake 
us. My brother has no experience, and is more helpless 
than we are. It is a frightful position for me. Before 
mamma I do all I can to be composed, else I could scream 
and weep the whole day through." She sank in a chair, 
still holding his hand. " Dear Wohlfart, do not forsake us." 

Anton bent over her, and looked with passionate emotion 
at the lovely face that turned so trustfully to him in the 
midst of its tears. 



414 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" I will be helpful to you when I can," said he, in the 
fulness of his heart. " I will be at hand whenever you 
need me. You have too good an opinion of my informa- 
tion and my faculties ; I can be of less assistance to you 
than you suppose, but what I can, that I will do in any 
and every possible way." 

Their hands parted with a warm pressure ; the affair 
was settled. 

The Baroness now returned. " Our lawyer was with 
me this morning," said she ; "and now I must ask for 
your opinion on another subject. He tells me that there 
is no prospect of preserving the Baron's family estate." 

" At this time, when interest is high, and money difficult 
to get, none," replied Anton. 

" And you, too, think that we must turn all our efforts 
towards preserving the Polish property?" 

" I do," was the answer. 

" For that, also, money will be necessary. Perhaps I 
may be able through my relatives to intrust you with a 
small sum, which, with the help of that/' — she pointed to 
the iron chest — " may suffice to cover the first necessary 
expenses. I do not, however, wish to sell the jewels here ; 
and a journey to the Residence would be necessary in order 
to procure the sum to which I have just alluded. The 
Baron's , lawyer has spoken most highly of your capacity for 
business. It is his wish which now decides me to make a 
proposal to you. Will you for the next few years, or at 
all events until our greatest difficulties are over, devote your 
whole time to our affairs 1 I have consulted my children, 
and they agree with me in believing that in your assistance 
lies our only hope of rescue. The Baron, too, has come in 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



415 



to the plan. The question now is whether your circum- 
stances allow you to give your support to our unfortunate 
family. We shall be grateful to you whatever conditions 
you affix ; and if you can find any way of making our great 
obligations to you apparent in the position you hold, pray 
impart it to me." 

Anton stood petrified. What the Baroness required of 
him, was separation from the firm, separation from his 
principal, and from Sabine ! Had this thought occurred 
to him before, when standing in Lenore's presence or bend- 
ing over the Baron's papers 1 At all events, now that the 
words were spoken, they shocked him. He looked at 
Lenore, who stood behind her mother with hands clasped 
in supplication. At length he replied : " I stand in a 
position, which I cannot leave without the consent of 
others. I was not prepared for this proposal, and beg to 
have time allowed me for consideration. It is- a step which 
will decide my whole future life." 

" I do not press you," said the Baroness ; " I only re- 
quest your consideration. W^hatever your decision be, our 
warmest gratitude will still be yours ; if you are unable to 
uphold our feeble strength, I fear that we shall find no 
one to do so. You will think of that," she added beseech- 
ingly. 

Anton hurried through the street with throbbing pulse. 
The noble lady's glance of entreaty, Lenore's folded hands, 
beckoned him out of the gloomy counting-house into a 
sphere of greater liberty, into a new future, from whose 
depths bright images flashed out upon his fancy. A re- 
quest had been frankly made, and he was strongly inclined 
to justify the confidence that prompted it. Those ladies 



416 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



required an unwearied, self-sacrificing helper, to save them 
from utter ruin. And if he followed his impulse he should 
be doing a good work — fulfilling a duty. 

In this mood, he entered the merchant's dwelling. Alas ! 
all that he saw around him, seemed to stretch out a hand 
to detain him. As he looked at the warehouse, the good- 
humoured faces of the porters, the chains of the great scales, 
the hieroglyphics of the worthy Pix, and again he felt that 
this was the place that he belonged to. Sabine's dog kissed 
his hand, and ran before him to his room. His and Fink's 
room ! Here the childish heart of the orphan boy had found 
a friend, kind companions, a home, a definite and honourable 
life-purpose. Looking down through his window on all the 
long familiar objects, he saw a light in Sabine's store-chamber. 
How often he had sought for that light, which brightened 
the whole great building, and brought a sense of comfort 
and cheerfulness even into his room. He now sprang up 
suddenly, and said to himself : " She shall decide." 

Sabine started in amazement when Anton appeared be- 
fore her. " I am irresistibly impelled to seek you," cried 
he. " I have to decide upon my future life, and I feel un- 
determined, and unable to trust to my own judgment. 
You have always been a kind friend to me since the day 
of my arrival. I am accustomed to look up to you, and to 
think of you in connexion with all that interests me here. 
Let me hear your opinion from your own lips. The 
Baroness Rothsattel has to-day proposed to me, permanently 
to undertake the situation of confidential adviser and 
manager of the Baron's aff'airs. Shall I accept, or shall I 
remain here 1 I know not, — tell me what is right both for 
myself and others." 



DEBIT AND OKEDIT. 



417 



" Not I," said Sabine, drawing back and growing very- 
pale. " I cannot venture to decide in the matter. Nor 
do you wish me to do so, Wohlfart, for you have already 
decided." 

Anton looked straight before him, and was silent. 

" You have thought of leaving this house, and a wish 
to do so has sprung out of the thought. And I am to 
justify you, and approve your resolve ! This is what you 
require of me," continued she bitterly. " But this, Wohlfart, 
I cannot do, for I am sorry that you go away from us." 

She turned away from him and leant on the back of a 
chair. 

" Oh, be not angry with me too ! " said Anton ; " that I 
cannot bear. I have suffered much of late. Mr. Schroter 
has suddenly withdrawn from me the friendly regard that 
I long held my life's greatest treasure, I have not deserved 
his coldness. What I have been doing has not been wrong, 
and it was done with his knowledge. I had been spoilt by 
his kindness ; I have the more deeply felt his displeasure. 
My only comfort has been that you did not condemn me. 
And now, do not you be cold towards me, else I shall be 
wretched for ever. There is not a soul on earth to whom 
I can turn for affectionate comprehension of my difficulties. 
Had I a sister, I should seek her heart to-day. You do 
not know what to me, lonely as I am, your smile, your 
kindly shake of the hand has been till now. Do not turn 
coldly from me, I beseech you." 

Sabine was silent ; at length she inquired, still with 
averted face, " What draws you to those strangers ; is it a 
joyful hope, is it sympathy alone ? Give this question close 
consideration before you answer it to yourself at least." 
2d 



418 



DEBIT AND CREDIT. 



" What it is that makes it possible for me to leave this 
house," said Anton, " I do not myself know. If I can give 
a name to my motives, it is gratitude felt towards one. She 
was the first to speak kindly to the wandering boy on his 
way out into the world. I have admired her in the peace- 
ful brightness of her former life. I have often di-eamed 
childish dreams about her. There was a time when a 
tender feeling for her filled my whole heart, and I then 
believed myself for ever the slave of her image. But years 
bring changes, and I learned to look on men and on life 
with other eyes. Then I met her again, distressed, un- 
happy, despairing, and my compassion became over-master- 
ing. When I am away from her, I know that she is 
nothing to me ; when I am with her, I feel only the spell 
of her sorrow. Once when I had to depart out of her 
circle like a culprit, she came to me, and before the whole 
scornful assembly she gave me her hand and acknowledged 
me her friend . And now she comes and asks for my hand 
to help her father. Can I refuse it ? Is it wrong to feel 
as I do ? I know not, and no one can tell me — no one but 
you alone." 

Sabine's head had sunk down to the back of the chair 
on which she bent. She now suddenly raised it, and with 
tearful eyes, and a voice full of love and sorrow, cried — 
" Follow the voice that calls you ! Go ! Wohlfart, go !" 



END OF VOL. 1. 



EDINBTROH : THOMAS CONSTABLE, ^RI^■TEK TO nER MAJESTY,